November 2017

November 30, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

There are always more questions. Science as a process is never complete. It is not a foot race, with a finish line." -- author and scientist Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior


Water Act debate

As you may have heard, the Water Act was tabled for second reading in the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday, where the Minister (MLA for District 10:Charlottetown-Sherwood Robert Mitchell) and the division head of environment (Jim Young), sat with committee chair Kathleen Casey (MLA for District 14: Charlottetown-Lewis Point) and started to go through the 50-page bill, voting to approve each section by section. They started a bit after 3PM and went until 5PM, and got to about Section 5 of 80-something(but the speed of going through a complex piece of legislation like this is anything but regularly paced).

The P.E.I. Legislature sits today 2-5PM, and tonight 7-9PM. As the Afternoon session will be Welcomes, and Question Period and Opposition afternoon, Debate on the Water Act will likely resume tonight at 7PM (but if that changes, updates will be posted on our Citizens' Alliance Facebook page or Twitter

Five things to improve the Water Act are:

1. Enshrine that water is a right.

2. Make the fracking ban a real ban

3. Use the right names for the terms: precautionary principle, intergenerational equity

4. Do not allow municipalities to to exceed limits on water withdrawals

5. Put the moratorium on high capacity wells in the Act.

What can you do?

  • BE THERE: Attend the session in person by sitting in the Gallery (tonight, tomorrow anytime from about 11AM-1PM, Tuesday of next week as they may not finish going through it today and tomorrow). OR

  • COMMENT AND SHARE: watch at home and comment on social media (Legislative Assembly website, Legislative Assembly Facebook), commenting on Citizens' Alliance social media and sharing with your contacts

  • CONTACT YOUR MLA and ask him or her to strengthen the bill with the five improvements, (above) MLA contact information They are the only ones who can improve this now.

The actual bill (looking at the last pages goes over the reasons for each section, if you want to start there): Water Act government website

The Environment Minister and staff have worked really well consulting with Islanders, and Official and Third Party Opposition Members very engaged -- that's noted and appreciated! -- it's these last slight modifications which will really make this bill shine and make P.E.I. lead in water protection. And with P.E.I. so dependent on its groundwater, this is something to push for.


Lynn Hasselberger is an environmental advocate, one of The Green Divas ("low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green") writer at "elephant journal" , and a concerned mother. She writes the essay used for November 30th in the anthology Global Chorus.

The environmental and social crises are complex and at times our circumstances can feel impossible to turn around. There’s discourse about how to resolve our problems and even heated controversy over what crises are real. Pile on our political, economic and religious differences, sprinkled with language barriers, and you’ve got chaos.

How do we get past this? It will take Herculean strength, but the answer is simple. We need to toss aside our differences and concede that we’re all human. Each and every one of us needs clean water, clean air, safe food and shelter; and these basic needs are human rights regardless of race, social status or religious belief. That has to be our foundation for moving forward.

Now we have to take that a step further – while the world is comprised of different countries, one country’s actions impacts all others in some way. We need to be accountable to one another because we’re all connected and, ultimately, share the same air and water. Nothing should stop the global community from collaborating and agreeing upon incentives for corporations and entire countries that develop technologies and practices that protect our environment (i.e., clean energy, sustainable farming, educational tools for developing countries, water retention and purification). There should also be globally enforceable consequences for corporations and countries that harm the environment in any way. Why can’t we integrate this into our international human rights law?

It has to start with individuals. You and me. Thanks to the Internet, we have an instant global community. We can initiate these conversations and influence others one by one to join this redefined humanitarian movement. Our survival and that of all species left on this Earth depends on it.

If we put humanity first, there is hope.

— Lynn Hasselberger

November 29, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today the P.E.I. Legislature sits only in the afternoon, from 2-5PM. You can attend in person for any of it, or watch via the Legislative Assembly website.

It is very possible debate may begin on Bill No. 13, the Water Act, after Welcomes and Question Period. Or not. Further updates may be sent out by me via e-mail or on our Facebook page.


Wednesday, November 29th:

Public Lecture --The Future of Genetic Engineering: Salmon, Potatoes, Gene Editing, 7-9PM, Rodd Charlottetown, Kent Street. Free. from their event listing:

The biotechnology industry is creating new genome editing techniques that promise to produce new genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) seeds, pesticides and animals faster, and more efficiently. But are these technologies actually more reliable and predictable? Will they resolve the global controversies over GM foods? What products are being developed and what are the risks? Our expert speaker will address these questions. <snip>


Thursday, November 30th:

Films Screening: E-Wasteland and Hands On: Women, Climate, Change, 6:30PM, Robertson Library room 235. Free with donations accepted. Cinema Politica Charlottetown is films, E-Wasteland and Hands On: Women, Climate, Change. More details on event page:


This blog-posting by Islander Hans Connor is well-worth sharing:

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

As much as I am disappointed that my friend Mike was not elected to the PEI legislature in last night’s by-election in District 11, I am heartened by the fact that voters did make a choice for a positive change in PEI politics. Congratulations to Hannah Bell, Peter Bevan-Baker and the PEI Green Party for accurately identifying this mood for change and embodying it in their approach to politics and in this campaign in particular. On its face, this by-election result may seem like a stunning rebuke of the MacLauchlan Liberals but I think it signifies something deeper and bolder. There are usually a variety of reasons for an electoral outcome but, to my mind, last night’s Green victory represents not just a vote against the current government but also a vote against the old style of “boss-follower” and “spoils” politics that has been practised on PEI for decades. That is not to say that that kind of politics is entirely dead; but there is a new style that is emerging, competing and winning. There is a message for each of the parties involved in this by-election and each party would do well to reflect on the outcome and what that means for their political methods going forward. This result has emboldened the critics of the old style and will propel further momentum of the new style. New ways of doing politics will result not just in better politics and better political outcomes, but it will also result in better governance now and into the future for the Island. Island political parties and politicians ignore these trends at their peril.

-- Hans Connor


Richard Zurawski is an author, former political candidate, radio talk show host, meteorologist, and documentary filmmaker.

There was a time when I was younger that I could say with confidence that the emergence of rational thought was set to usher in a new era of prosperity and a golden age of reason. It was time when scientists were generally respected, and some were even revered. But in the past two decades, the rise of religions, consumerism, self-interest and media complicity have eroded and marginalized science and its twin pillars of knowledge and rational thought. Everywhere, the attack on science and scientists is returning us to the dark ages, where scientists and science are vilified and persecuted. Is this hyperbole?

In our schools, fundamentalists insist on including “creationism,” masked in its new-age nomenclature of “intelligent design,” as a viable alternative to the science of evolution. Parents are eschewing inoculations that have saved countless lives over the years and are placing their entire faith in practices such as homeopathy, which is leading to an inevitable resurgence in childhood diseases. Vested interests such as the tobacco lobby have succeeded, with their vast financial reserves, in flooding the media with pseudo and distorted science, creating a method of doubt in science and scientific enquiry that is creeping throughout our society. Our universities are under financial assault as they are forced to become pawns of industry. And the massive, incalculable assault on the environment though the twin devils of population explosion and consumerism is just beginning to unfold.

In light of these almost overwhelming challenges, it is hard to be anything but a pessimist. Yet it seems that when the light is the dimmest, when the road ahead is darkest and almost totally obscured, humanity rises to reveal its best. Somehow the best, the brightest and the greatest come to the fore and give us a renewal and strength to mitigate the worst. It has happened time and time again, and it is my profound hope and wish that out of the potential disaster, reason and sanity will triumph.

— Richard Zurawski

November 28, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Achieving proportional representation one seat at a time may be the strategy the provincial Green Party is taking, with the win last night of candidate Hannah Bell in District 11 (Charlottetown-Parkdale), the by-election for the seat held by Liberal Doug Currie. A jubilant crowd was at the bar1911 with Bell, and Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker and many others who guessed or hoped how the night would go.

PC leader James Aylward and candidate Melissa Hilton came by, very graciously congratulating Bell, chatting with others; a sincere but shorter congratulatory visit by Bob Doiron and Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell (apparently having to stand in for the Premier, who was in town at Doiron's headquarters). Mike Redmond's gambit to "Get the Leader in the House" was hard-fought.


Determination Day (official counting of votes) is Monday, December 4th, and the Declaration Day is Wednesday, December 13th. Not sure if the Legislature will still be in session to have Hannah Bell take her seat. The Elections PEI website did not have a great evening, unable to handle the traffic of interested Islanders. They have a little less than two years to get the site capable of handing the provincial election traffic.


The 26-member and one-in-waiting P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM today. You can go to the Gallery to watch for any length of time in person, or on Eastlink cable or on the Assembly's website or on Facebook.

Will the Water Act be discussed today? Probably not, but the scheduling is a bit of an enigma to me.

The Tories are likely to film a "Live at 5" recap of their afternoon's efforts, including what's focused on during Question Period. It is first on Steven Myers' Facebook page.


The petition for supporting South Shore health services will be wrapping up later this week, so local MLA Peter Bevan-Baker can table it in the Legislature.

Copies are at local stores in the Crapaud/Hampton/Bonshaw area. While it was started by South Shore residents, this does affect many Islanders, since physician mobility is allowed, but good quality rural living is enhanced by local medical services for many needs.

It is a signature-only petition, so if you would like to print and send a petition, let me know and I will send it to you.


A few leftover notes from the Legislature last week:

Are the new teachers and assistants for some downtown Charlottetown schools who have had a influx of newcomers permanent? -- no. The Tories are asking lots of questions on schools and education in the Province

Peter Bevan-Baker asked the Premier to re-initiate the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal's work on campaign financing reform, MLA severance, increasing diversity in the house, etc. He and Sidney MacEwen would like the collaborative committee to do its assigned work. The answer from the Premier was, I think, no; but it was not an easy answer to parse. Here is the committee's website, so full of promise.


Christina Pirello is an Emmy Award-winning host of the U.S. national public television series Christina Cooks, bestselling author, and health activist.

Can humanity save itself from itself?

For me, the salvation of our planet and modern society begins, and ends, with our food. We can clearly see that our modern food choices have destroyed any delusions that food has no impact on our health and the welfare of our planet. Entire societies are plagued by preventable diseases that are driven by our lifestyles. Our planet groans under the weight of our healthcare costs, our trash, the by-products of the way we produce food … and the actual weight of humanity itself.

If we look at our collective health and that of our planet, we must despair. But a groundswell of conscious people are seeing the light, making changes and demanding better quality food to feed our families, our children, our future.

Reclaiming our food begins with reclaiming the meal. When we gather around the hearth, the table, we cultivate the skills we need to create a compassionate community … from communication and sharing to social justice; the tools we need to preserve our very humanity are in the kitchen and are carried to the table.

The ecology of what we eat has an impact on our personal health and the health of our fragile planet. Choosing whole, unprocessed, seasonal foods sustainably produced can change the world. That may sound simplistic, but it’s simple truth … and can feed the world, creating a different humanity than what we see.

Imagine a world of healthy, compassionate humans working together to reverse the damage done by multinational corporations and special interests. Imagine life lived on a planet that is vibrant and healthy. Simply stated, we worry about the environment around us, but consider this. Our internal environment, the state of our internal health reflects the world we have created. If we were to eat foods fit for human consumption and “clean up” our internal environment, we would not tolerate the chaos and pollution around us … and the world would change … because we changed it.

As it always has, the future begins in the kitchen, with humans cooking real food and gathering around the table creating real communities.

— Christina Pirellox

November 27, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The actual "ordinary" voting day for the District 11 provincial by-election is today, and polls close at 7PM.

The P.E.I. Legislature is in session tomorrow and the rest of the week.

If you are looking for something legislativish to read, here is a link to the "Citizens' Guide to the Nova Scotia Legislature", by former Nova Scotia MLA and Minister of Finance Graham Steele. Graham has some biases and a good chunk of cynicism, and of course this is particular to Nova Scotia, but you may find it of interest. There are many embedded links in the blog postings for background information.


Another Nova Scotian, environmental rights advocate and journalist Silver Donald Cameron sent this article out on social media, about the extremely dedicated environmental lawyers in this country. It includes "our own" Lisa Mitchell from East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW), who has helped the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water with critically looking at the Water Act drafts, and is working to help environmental rights become a reality in this part of the country.

Here is the link to the article, followed by the beginning and then an thoughtful section in the middle of the article. The whole article is here:

Environmental Defenders: The leaders of Canada's environmental non-profits - Canadian Lawyer magazine cover story by Patricia Chisholm

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Passion and doggedness are essential for the lawyers who lead Canada's environmental non-profits.

Nothing about practising environmental law in the non-profit sector is easy, and that includes finding a place to park your desk. Theresa McClenaghan, executive director and counsel of the Ontario-based Canadian Environmental Law Association, may have been active in the field for 25 years, but she has only recently arrived at a solution she is happy with for housing her legal aid non-profit.

After decades of moving between lofts and other marginal accommodation, CELA recently took up residence in an aging office tower on University Avenue in downtown Toronto. The space became financially feasible as a result of many larger, richer organizations decamping south to the shiny new towers overlooking Toronto harbour. CELA, along with seven other publicly funded specialty legal clinics, have formed a co-op and now have linked freshly designed offices over two spacious floors that allow them to save money by pooling resources, among other mutually supportive activities. Wryly, McClenaghan notes that the most recent move is a great relief for some of the older lawyers: “We have a 15-year lease, which means we probably won’t have to move again in our careers.”


CELA’s McClenaghan, looking back on 25 years of effort, with many victories and many disappointments, puts it more bluntly. “It’s all hanging by a thread. We can see, in international events generally, that the whole system of democracy is much more fragile than people realize. It means that we have to fight hard to achieve citizen participation rights and to maintain them and use them well and improve them. It does not take much to disrupt those rights.”

<snip> rest of story here


Heather A.E. Pinnock is Caribbean sustainability advocate, green builder and related to the Climate Reality Project, which is blogged about here: Very timely regarding what the Caribbean has gone through this year, where we are here on P.E.I. with the Water Act.

The Caribbean region is comprised of some two dozen territories, most of which are small island developing states that are very vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The tropical nations of the region are inherently climate sensitive, with our lives and livelihoods inextricably connected to our environment. A groundbreaking study published in October 2013 identified the Caribbean region as being on the frontlines to suffer the effects of climate change with worst case scenarios placing cities in the region among the first on the planet to reach the global warming tipping point by 2023. The social, economic and environmental implications are staggering: extreme heat, coastal erosion, vector-borne disease, drought, flood and more intense storms are some of the key concerns. These can and will affect everything from personal comfort, natural habitats and physical infrastructure to the agriculture, marine and tourism industries on which we rely.

The only way to overcome these crises and thrive is a radical change in behaviour – for individuals and communities to live more sustainably, for better national and regional management of natural resources and for a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and other unsustainable development practices. Though the Caribbean region accounts for less than 2 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, we recognize and appreciate that every bit of responsible behaviour counts as we bear the brunt of some of their effects on the planet’s climate.

It is clear that we must do more than hope, we must act … and now. While we work to adapt, develop social and physical resilience and even find ways to thrive in a deteriorating environment, it is also critical that we raise our voices to join if not lead the chorus to effect global change. We can and will continue to find, develop and implement the sustainable development practices and grow the green economies critical not only to our survival but also for our long-term prosperity.

— Heather A.E. Pinnock

November 26, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Today, some musical choices:

Bonshaw Ceilidh, 2-4PM, admission by proceeds to the Bonshaw Hall. Facebook event details.

Second Chances Band Christmas Concert, 2:30-4PM, Steel Recital Hall at UPEI, tickets are $5 and available at the door. Lots of wonderful band music. Facebook event details.


Some events this week:

Wednesday, November 29th:

Public Lecture --The Future of Genetic Engineering: Salmon, Potatoes, Gene Editing, 7-9PM, Rodd Charlottetown, Kent Street. Free. from their event listing:

The biotechnology industry is creating new genome editing techniques that promise to produce new genetically engineered (genetically modified or GM) seeds, pesticides and animals faster, and more efficiently. But are these technologies actually more reliable and predictable? Will they resolve the global controversies over GM foods? What products are being developed and what are the risks? Our expert speaker will address these questions.

Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher is a biologist, molecular geneticist, and co-director of EcoNexus based in the UK. She has worked on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their risks and impacts on agriculture, environment, and health since 1995, including more recently synthetic biology and the new genome editing techniques.

She is involved in UN-led processes, in particular the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and has been appointed to international expert groups on the risk assessment of GMOs, as well as synthetic biology. She’s a founding member of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility and works closely with civil society and small-scale farmers’ groups worldwide.

This event is organized by the PEI groups Earth Action, Council of Canadians - PEI Chapter and the Mackillop Centre for Social Justice, as well as the national organization Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).

Thursday, November 30th:

Films Screening: E-Wasteland and Hands On: Women, Climate, Change, 6:30PM, Robertson Library room 235. Free with donations accepted. Cinema Politica Charlottetown is films, E-Wasteland and Hands On: Women, Climate, Change. from the event page:


Have you ever wondered what happens to your electronics at the end of their life? Almost 50 million tonnes of e-waste (electronic waste) are generated worldwide every year. A large volume of second-hand and condemned electronic goods arrive in developing countries from the “developed” world, with a significant quantity arriving as e-waste, exported illegally as second hand goods.

Without dialogue or narration, E-Wasteland presents a visual portrait of unregulated e-waste recycling in Ghana, West Africa, where electronics are not seen for what they once were, but for what they have become.

Hands On: Women, Climate, Change:

Hands-on profiles five women from four continents tackling climate change through policy, protest, education and innovation. The film powerfully demonstrates how women are transferring knowledge and local networks into hands-on strategies.

This 48-minute collaborative documentary offers unique perspectives across cultures and generations; A young woman challenges the expansion of oil rigs in the North Sea while a seasoned community organizer interprets satellite weather reports for fisherman struggling to survive on India’s increasingly volatile coast.


On Friday morning, I watched (on-line) one of the most poignant requests, then vexing response, in the provincial legislature, after Question Period and during the "committee of the whole house" (when the Speaker leaves and the capital budget is examined and various questions are asked). Sidney MacEwen (D7: Morell-Mermaid) asked about the position in the lists for replacements of boilers and roofs at the schools in his District. He emphasized the leaking roof at Mt. Stewart school, where kids in other schools run around cones, kids at Mt. Stewart are dodging around buckets placed to catch the water.

He asked Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown (D13:Charlottetown-Brighton) to help by calling the Public Schools Branch (PSB) to see if the leaks could be fixed (while the school was closed today for a broken boiler, anyway) before the damage to the building is any worse (and, presumably, the kids don't have buckets and puddles all over the gym floor). Minister Brown said the member could call the PSB himself. Sidney emphasized that he has, and was asking for some support from the Minister in addressing this situation. The Minister, in essence, shrugged.

Rain and wind are predicted for today and for Wednesday.


Rick Hansen is a spinal cord injury advocate and Canadian paralympian, and his Foundation website is here. He wrote this essay for the anthology Global Chorus.

At the age of 15, when I sustained my spinal cord injury, I learned a very valuable life lesson: with support, courage and sheer determination, anything is possible. Since then, I have lived my life with purpose, holding fast to the belief that we all have the ability to make a difference and leave a positive impression on the world. The challenge, however – for every individual on the planet – is in making that choice to live life with meaning, deciding every single day to do something that will make a difference. This could be something as simple as being kind to others or engaging in community, fundraising for a cause or picking up garbage off the beach. It’s the accumulation of those little gestures of respect and humanity towards other people, and our Earth, that I believe will move us forward towards a world that is healthier and more inclusive.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for the outdoors, resulting in personal volunteerism and leadership in environmental conservation. My love of the wilderness has fuelled a deep respect for the environment and the ecosystem that feeds our planet. As I look to the future, I believe the next generation of youth are going to play a vital role in the conservation and sustainability of our Earth. I believe that through education and understanding, we can inspire the values of gratitude and appreciation for the beauty and abundance of our planet, and that the young people of today will become the leaders of tomorrow who promote and encourage their peers to nurture our planet and ensure the survival of all species.

We all have hope – this is what makes us human and gives us the courage to make this world a better place. You can make a difference, simply by starting here and answering the following question: what is the cause that passionately calls for your help? Because when each of us chooses to change one small thing, together we can do anything.

— Rick Hansen

November 25, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Events today:

Pancake Breakfast, Meet (and Eat, presumably) with District 11 Green Party candidate Hannah Bell, 10AM-12noon, Park Royal United Church. Free, all welcome.

I am sure other candidates have events going on, but wasn't finding details.

Some Christmas Craft Fairs (buy local and such):

Belfast Christmas Market, 9AM-2PM, Belfast Recreational Centre. "A local Christmas Market featuring vendors offering fresh seasonal greenery, baking, preserves, knitting, crafts, specialty items, Christmas Decor, local authors, Scottish gift items, and fresh local cranberries. Lunch is available. Admission is free."

Charlottetown: Victorian Christmas Weekend, Queen Street (between Grafton and Richmond, which is closed to car traffic). Horse and wagon rides, artisans and food vendors. All day.

Esty Market, Murphy's Community Centre gym, 10AM-5PM,

Beaconsfield Heritage Craft Fair, 9AM-3PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House.

Breadalbane: Small is Beautiful Christmas Craft Fair, 10AM-3PM, Breadalbane Community Centre, all those talented people in the Central Queens area.

Lennox Island: Lennox Island Christmas Craft Fair, 10AM-4PM, John J. Sark School. Admission $2 or bring a non-perishable food item.

Also, Perrin's Marina Villa, Montague (9AM-4PM),

Stratford Elementary (9AM-4PM),

Kensington (QE School), 9AM-4PM,

Milton (9:30AM-3:30PM)

More details compiled on this Buzz page:


The news that the family doctor who took over long-time Crapaud physician Henk Visser's practice was moving his practice to Cornwall prompted dismay at the prospect of loss of local medical care in the South Shore area. Having a family doctor in any of these smaller communities enhances the quality of life. Residents in the area discussed concerns about access and made plans to gather support for maintaining local medical care, putting it together when Peter Bevan-Baker, District 17 MLA, organized a community meeting. Resident Fran Albrecht is distributing and collecting a petition on maintaining local physician and/or nurse practitioner(s) care.

All residents, South Shore region or otherwise, are encouraged to sign this, as it affects all regions outside the main cities and towns.

The petition can be found in pretty much any store or building in Crapaud or Hampton, or you can downloaded and print one, sign it (perhaps get other signatures) and send it to Bevan-Baker (just ask me to send you one).

This is a signed-in-ink petition to be tabled in the Legislature before the end of this session (not an on-line petition), so the deadline to sign is Friday, December 1st. The petitions will get picked up by Fran after that, and any individual ones printed and signed could be sent in the mail (send by November 28-29 so it gets there in time) to MLA Bevan-Bake at PO Box 2000,Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8 or dropped off at the Coles Building, Downtown on Richmond and Church Streets.


Josie Maran is the chief eco officer for Josie Maran Cosmetics. She writes the essay used for the November 25th entry in the Global Chorus anthology.

When I think about why we should have hope for the planet (and everyone on it), I think about the miracles that happen every day because people don’t lose hope.

Big miracles, like Rosa Parks changing race relations in the U.S. forever by refusing to sit at the back of the bus, or Barack Obama becoming the first black President with his “Hope” campaign – which couldn’t have happened if Rosa Parks hadn’t done what she did all those years before.

Or smaller miracles, like my grandma having breast cancer and keeping her hope alive so that now, at age 85, she’s still playing tennis every day.

Our society and our world is just a conglomeration of individual people, and if each of us keeps that kind of hope in our hearts, I’m sure that, together and separately, we’ll do the right thing and save the planet.

— Josie Maran

November 24, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Minister Robert Mitchell is going to be on CBC Radio, I think after the 7:30 (so sometime around 7:40 or later) to discuss the Water Act, which was tabled in the Legislature yesterday.

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM today; the watch live button is on this page, as are links to Motions or Bills they are discussing.

The last advance polling date for the by-election in District 11 is today, 10AM-6PM, at Eastlink Centre, and the actual election day is Monday.

Lecture: Sir William Osler and Sir Andrew, doors open 6:30PM, Macphail Homestead in Orwell. Facebook event details.


The Water Act and related documents will provide a little weekend reading, with all the background information, for those interested:

It likely won't start being discussed in the House until next week, since they are still going through capital budget. However, the pacing of things in the Legislature is predictably unpredictable.

Darcie Lanthier tweeted what many of us are thinking, regarding Minister Mitchell:

"We all hope that ‘Poppy’ was thinking of his Grandchildren while working on the Water Act #WaterIsLife"


Mathis Wackernagel, PhD, is founder and chief executive office of the Global Footprint Network.

Humanity’s resource hunger and ecosystem exploitation exceed what planet Earth can sustain. Now the greatest challenge is how to live within our ecological means. But it is also our greatest opportunity.

Fortunately, we have the tools at our disposal to measure both our demand on and the availability of Nature. Now the question is, do we have the courage to calibrate our policies to align with the facts? Or will we do as many have done in the past – address the dilemma of limited resources with brutality, while leaving large segments of humanity in the dust?

Learning to live within the means of one Earth will require the best in human spirit and planning. The promise is a far more stable and peaceful global community.

We can succeed and I want to, because if we don’t, everyone will lose.

— Mathis Wackernagel

November 23, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A busy day as two Canadian political party Leaders visit the Island. The Prime Minister arrives to receive the Symon's Medal and give the Lecture, and I am sorry that those wonderful Confederation Centre Children's Choir members will not be singing for him, as they sound beautiful and it would be a treat for them for all their hard work practicing and appearing at public events. The Children's Choir has sung at every Symon's Lecture in recent memory.

It's sure to be busy downtown, as Richmond Street (Victoria Row) is closed getting ready for this and for tomorrow's Wintertide tree lighting and Victorian Christmas Weekend. If you don't have tickets and still want to hear the speech:

Symon's Medal and Lecture, simulcast beginning at noon, link here:

The P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM, 7-9PM. Opposition sets the agenda for the afternoon after Welcomes and Question Period. Watch on the Assembly's Facebook page, Eastlink or the Legislature website.

The Water Act is due to be tabled in the Legislature for first reading any day now.

Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada Leader, is here tonight:,

Meet and Greet with Elizabeth May and Hannah Bell, for District 11's by-election,

7-9PM, bar1911. Elizabeth is one of those energetic and graceful people who is always welcoming and accessible, even in a crowded location.

Tomorrow, Friday, November 24th:

Last Advance poll for District 11 by-election for MLA. Elections PEI has been splashing around Facebook with its non-political yellow and black notices. Facebook event details here.

Facebook posting from Elections PEI earlier in the by-election time period.


Lecture: Sir William Osler and Andrew Macphail, 7PM, Macphail Homestead

"Dr. William Osler and Dr. Macphail both attended McGill University and were professors there at different times. Dr. James Moran will explore the connection between these two physicians. Cash bar from 6:30, Lecture begins at 7:00."


Thanks to Kevin Arsenault for pointing this out -- here is the Mandate Letter, just written this week, to Pat Murphy, Minister of Rural and Regional Development. It's quite the long read of great stuff this government is doing and then gets to items he should be working on.


Anna Gustafson is a visual artist, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, and her website is here:

By the way there is also a Canadian comic and writer with the same name and whose website ends with .ca

Is there hope for planet Earth? Yes, and hope provides the energy that fuels action. In our current global situation, each of us contributing locally in our own way can reverberate across the world. From my region, the west coast of Canada, I can offer up a prime example of what gives me hope.

Dr. Tom Reimchen, a biologist at the University of Victoria, asked a simple question: “Why are trees closest to streams bigger?” Using his curiosity and determination he discovered a surprising answer to this question. In essence, he and his team found that the wild Pacific salmon, along with its predators, scavengers and insects, are a nitrogen delivery system from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. Their work, Salmon/Forest Project, demonstrates why protecting individual species also helps to protect entire ecosystems.

Tom both gave me hope and inspired me as a visual artist. With his permission, I combined his current scientific research with archival images to create my ongoing project Ghost Salmon, which has been seen by many people.

Though it began locally, this research continues to grow in scope. Pacific salmon inhabit and enrich the North Pacific Rim, from Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Alaska, BC, Washington, Oregon and California. There is also the possibility that nitrogen is delivered in a similar way in other ecosystems throughout our planet. For example, hilsa are a fish of the Indian subcontinent that also live in saltwater, returning 1,200 miles inland to spawn and enrich life on land.

Some of our unique human behaviours such as curiosity, passion, determination and ambition have brought us to this critical and dangerous point in history; but with the crucial addition of inspired leadership, knowledge and co-operation, they can bring us to a place of hope which then energizes action. Ghost Salmon and Salmon/Forest Project are examples of how answering a local question furthers global understanding, which is necessary for a more sustainable world.

It is my sincere hope that you are finding your own ways to contribute locally for planet Earth in the desperate times that we face.

— Anna Gustafson

November 22, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The PEI Legislature sits for the afternoon session only on Wednesdays, 2-5PM. Watch here.


Thursday, November 23rd:

Simulcast of the 2017 Symons Medal Awarding Ceremony and Lecture, 12noon, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The English and French links are on this page:

Meet and Greet with Elizabeth May and Hannah Bell (District 11 Green Party Candidate), 7-9PM, bar1911 (113 Longworth Ave.), free. Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Sannich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May is visiting, and all ages are welcome.

Facebook event details


Tuesday in the P.E.I. Legislature

Some random notes and observations:

Points of order were immediately raised about D11 Liberal candidate Bob Doiron having ads with capital budget announcements (details that would have been at the newspaper before the budget came out, so somehow his organizers would have had this info).

Pat Murphy, Minister of Rural and Regional Development and MLA for D26: Alberton -Roseville, during welcomes when some MLAs were describing their recent activities, said he meets with his advisors at his local coffee shop, and he rattled off a list of men. Perhaps he should have a little more diversity in his group of advisors.

Jamie Fox, former interim Leader of the Opposition, MLA for D19:Borden-Kinkora, spoke about the need for diversity in forestry plantings, and the need for a good forestry policy with an emphasis on diverse species reforestation.

Fox also spoke later in the evening (I did not get to watch this, but going on a keen observer's comments) during the debate on Motion 2 (Urging Government to take immediate action to address the lack of affordable housing in Prince Edward Island), and again with heartfelt emotion addressed the government's need to do more to help people on this Island. It sounds like the Tories all spoke to it, relating what they are seeing and how they what government to help, the Minister and other government MLAs spoke about what a great job government is doing, the Premier didn't really get the concept of affordable housing being different than housing and housing starts, and there was a government-side attempt to do one of those awful "Amendment to the Motion" to pretty much completely change the meeting, which the Mover and Seconder (Darlene Compton and Brad Trivers) strenuously rejected. The hour ran out.

Back in the afternoon during Question Period, D1:Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie asked about the Pictou plant that will spew effluent into the Strait. Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac immediately agreed that it is unacceptable for a province to dump bad stuff into fish habitat that would affect other provinces' fisheries, and he would monitor.

Let's Flip this around: Maps show high-nitrate runoff from P.E.I. waterways (from fields that obviously do not have the right amount of fertilizer at the right time) entering the Strait, presumably affecting New Brunswick fisheries.

Pierre Grizard's maps from the CassandraPEI's Facebook page and other outlets, from a couple of years ago, tracking nitrates.


Lou Leonard is vice-president for climate change and energy, World Wildlife Fund, and writes the November 22nd Global Chorus essay.

From Hollywood to Bollywood, there are so many ways to escape; to the past – with kings and thrones – or the future – where we fight or fall in love with our computers. But is there really a more exciting time to live than right now?

As a human family we have never been wealthier, healthier or safer. We have tools our grandmothers could never have imagined. We are a planet of superheroes, strong and ready.

We face threats, yes, but we see them: our scientists, heroes by any measure, already have discovered the invisible climate pollution seeping into our life support systems. We know that our current path puts at risk our coastal cities, our food production and half the species on planet Earth.

And already we have begun the amazing process of changing our entire way of living, beginning what David Korten calls The Great Turning. We are moving away from deadly coal, gas and oil toward clean power generated on our own roofs. We already have invented all of the technologies needed for this transformation.

But we are running out of time. Decisions we make – about energy, forests and agriculture – over the next decade will shape the world’s future, forever.

So why haven’t more people made this great turning part of their life’s work? Two words: Fear and Doubt. Fear says don’t even look at this exciting yet scary moment; don’t accept that this is the most important time in human history. And a creeping, sinister Doubt whispers that we really can’t make a difference.

And this makes me hopeful for our future, because the villains Fear and Doubt are within our power to vanquish. We can find the quiet courage to stay with the truth for just a moment without turning away and then surprisingly discover energy to act. We can realize that the turn toward this safer, more beautiful future already has begun. And we can see the growing chorus standing alongside us.

So don’t be silent, talk to your friends, hold your leaders accountable. Start small, but then stretch yourself to do more. You’re not alone, but you are oh so important.

— Lou Leonard

November 21, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The PEI Legislature resumes today, 2-5PM, and 7-9PM. Watch on their website or on the Legislative Assembly's Facebook page, where you can post comments with other Islanders who are watching.

During Friday's Question Period, the Official Opposition Progressive Conservatives asked questions primarily on children's psycho-educational assessments and who is qualified to administer the assessments. Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker asked the premier when he would honour the plebiscite vote, and if the District 11 by-election turnout wasn't as high as the Premier wanted, would he restore Doug Currie to the seat? While this raised the ire and acid tongue of the Premier, jabbing fingers were kept in check. The Question Period Hansard (transcript) here.


From Elections PEI (adapted):

Following the 2nd Advance Polling Day, 18.88% of electors in District 11 have voted in the #D11ByElection.

You may vote (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday) at the Returning Office:

161 St Peters Rd --

Sherwood Business Centre

from 10AM-6PM

You can also visit Eastlink Centre Charlottetown this Friday (November 24th) for the 3rd Advance Poll from 9AM-7PM.


There is more to the story that simply that the Keystone project in Nebraska was approved yesterday in the United States. Jamie Henn of relays it in this series of tweets:


Last month, people held a "Funeral for the Forest" in Halifax to highlight poor forestry policy and practices causing damage to the environment.

Zack Metcalfe ("Zack Metcalfe is a freelance environmental journalist, an author, and writer of the Endangered Perspective. He operates out of Halifax, Nova Scotia") writes "The Endangered Perspective" in The Halifax Citizen (only first part of the piece is reprinted -- the link has the full article):

Discussing a sustainable, profitable lumber industry in Nova Scotia - The Chronicle Herald article by Zack Metcalfe

Printed on Monday, November 13th, 2017

Since the forest funeral held in Halifax Grand Parade, Thursday, Oct. 19, I’ve heard quite a bit of criticism, some directed at the character of the people who participated and others at myself for having written favourably about the event. These comments, rarely constructive, painted with a wide brush a considerable number of Nova Scotians who have extremely valid concerns over the state and treatment of our forests, thus the struggling wildlife so often featured in this column.

Most of this can be dismissed out of hand, of course, like accusations of unemployment and marijuana enthusiasm among participants (having recognized many faces in the crowd I promise this idea is an uninformed jab), but one comment really stuck in my craw. Because the coffin at the head of this procession was made of wood, it’s been suggested, these marching masses were hypocrites and their efforts at sustainable forestry somehow invalid. It’s this lame argument I’d like to address.

We’ve come across this idea before and in my considered opinion, it always betrays an imperfect understanding of the social upheaval at hand. Is the woman promoting action on climate change a hypocrite for driving a gasoline car? How about the man encouraging low-impact agriculture for eating corn? Should the individual promoting equality pay among genders not do so from their own pocket? Of course not.

<snip> rest of article here


Brad Rabiey co-founder of The Carbon Farmer, planting trees and storing carbon, and supporting cultivation of heritage grains, and has restored his family’s farm in Alberta (and others around the world) with more trees.

I grew up on a third-generation family farm. We always had and still keep an amazing garden. Despite our high latitude in Canada, every summer we enjoy cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, pumpkins, carrots and more. We build the garden soil with planting rotations and my Dad would never even think about spraying the weeds that pop up on it. Yet prior to the farm’s transition to me, my parents used fertilizer and pesticides to produce crops like wheat on the bulk of our farmland; grains that ultimately become food for other people. That inconsistency started to bother me many years ago. So, when it came time for the farm to be transitioned to my generation, I dug my heels in to ensure the farm would be certified organic before I took it over; because I only want to grow food I’d actually eat myself or proudly serve to my own family.

That is my story and I tell it everywhere I can, including on this page, because it makes people consider how they can live consistently. It encourages people to examine how their decisions impact the broader world; whether it is where their clothing is made or how they travel to work each day. My story is not a fear-mongering tale, because when we say the sky is falling and it does not do so, in a way that impacts the audience directly; the next day, or even the next year, we become trapped in another parable about a boy crying wolf.

So what should we do to gain trust of the majority and steer society away from the proverbial cliff on issues that are not often instantaneously perceived? We need to teach compassion and empathy. We need to get people to realize that what they do has a ripple effect around the world and generationally, whether through the fabric of society or the warming waters in our oceans. In other words, that we are all eating from the same garden.

Brad Rabiey

November 20, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Inside Municipal Council: Summerside, 6PM, Summerside Town Hall. Hosted by the Young Voters of PEI and the PEI Coalition for Women in Government. All welcome to see a council meeting and then meet afterward to discuss what happened. This is part of an initiative to encourage people to consider running in their municipal elections next year.


Sarah Stewart Clark, mental health and wellness advocate, founder of "Island Mothers Helping Mothers" and of #HowManyWade Facebook groups, posted this on her Facebook site, repeated with permission, from Saturday, November 18th, 2017:

I would like to make something clear. If you are the government and you are not providing services to people who need them- then you are the one causing harm- not the people who point out this lack of services.

Last year when I started advocating for families who could not access mental healthcare for their loved ones Minister Paula Biggar turned it on me- accusing me of doing harm by raising public awareness that wait times for essential healthcare services were unacceptable. I heard this same accusation made in the legislative assembly on Friday by Minister Tina Mundy - this time directing the accusation against the Opposition - who were asking critical questions about bed closures in unit 9. She said their "rhetoric" was scaring people.

Let me repeat - if it is your government who is not providing the services- if it is your government closing beds then you are the ones causing the harm. Not the people asking you why you are closing beds. We will not be fooled by smoke and mirrors and spin. --Sarah Stewart Clark

Pretty cruel for Government to try to discredit people who oppose them, speaking out for the voiceless. It is intimidating, and it is meant to be intimidating, and people need to speak out when they see this happening to them, and all of us need to support them.


A good, tough editorial from The Guardian:

Main EDITORIAL: Lukewarm support - The Guardian Main Editorial

Published on Thursday, November 16th, 2017

The creation of a map suggests the province is hoping that when rural voters see the new districts, they will become alarmed over possible loss of representation under the MMP option.

The provincial government is sending signals that its support for democratic renewal remains lukewarm – at best. The topic was the last issue dealt with in the speech from the throne Tuesday and was limited to four paragraphs. The message is clear.

Supporters of electoral reform can take some satisfaction that the issue was included in the speech. Government could have delayed discussion until late next year or even early 2019, since a referendum in conjunction with the provincial election won’t happen until Oct. 7, 2019.

The timing should ensure that a strong majority of voters would decide the electoral reform question. A low plebiscite turnout last November convinced government not to accept the victory by the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) option.

In the throne speech, government repeated its promise to table referendum legislation in 2018 for a second, binding vote on democratic renewal. This legislation will include “a clear referendum question as well as the rules required for a fair and transparent process.”

That all sounds reasonable, but there is reason for alarm among electoral reform supporters. The government says it will request the creation of a map to show how the MMP system would appear geographically. And while government will craft the referendum legislation, it must allow for full debate and amendment options to ensure a fair and transparent process. It must commit to following the will of the legislature.

The creation of a map suggests the province is hoping that when rural voters see the new districts, they will become alarmed over possible loss of representation under the MMP option. As discussed in the 2016 plebiscite debate, the MMP model would see the number of districts reduced from 27 to 18. The hybrid system combines proportional representation with the current system, so MLAs in those 18 districts would be elected the same way they are now, where the candidate with the most votes wins.

But there would also be nine additional MLAs, to bring the total back up to 27. Those nine seats would be assigned to parties to match the makeup of seats in the House with the proportion of votes each party received in the election. It would virtually guarantee that third parties would earn representation in the legislature and that party leaders will be inside the rail.

If all sides are supportive of a fully informed process, and a well-considered referendum outcome, then P.E.I.’s march to democratic renewal has an excellent chance of long overdue success.

It’s essential that the MMP map be drawn up by Elections P.E.I. to keep any influence or interference of government out of the process. The failure to table thresholds left the 2016 plebiscite results open to government’s after-the-fact interpretation. That mistake can’t be repeated.

A new government isn’t bound by a referendum question posed by a previous administration. A new government doesn’t have to honour the electoral reform result. So all parties should commit to recognizing the outcome during debate on the legislature.

We don't want to see victors rewriting history.


Jennifer Baichwal is a documentary filmmaker, and writes the November 20th Global Chorus essay.

I am frequently surprised and humbled by the optimism of those who live closest to the ground in the struggle for social and environmental justice, and by

the relative resilience of Nature. When these two forces come together, I am filled with hope.

I just finished a film called Watermark about human interaction with, and impact upon, water around the world. We were in ten different countries and witnessed a myriad of human relationships with that primal natural force, crucial to life. One of the most affected places we visited was the Colorado River Delta. It used to be two million acres of lush wetland habitat, and is now a desert. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, the Imperial Valley, with its agriculture that many of us depend upon – these barren places have been terraformed by, and exist because of, water from the Colorado. So much is taken in the U.S. – 14 dams worth – that the mighty river limps across the border into Mexico and dies. Most of the time, since the 1960s, no river water reaches the ocean.

But in 1977, some (not much) agricultural wastewater from Arizona was accidentally released back into the Delta, creating a desert lake now called La Ciénega de Santa Clara. Almost overnight, the landscape transformed. Plants and birds and fish returned, and this small amount of inadvertent runoff made the area a flourishing estuary habitat again. It has been tended by Juan Butron, his family and the community of Ejido Johnson for the past 35 years, and in 1993 was designated a biosphere reserve. The area has provided an indispensable living model for water activists like the Sonoran Institute in their ongoing daily work with local residents to restore the delta.

Optimism + resilience = hope.

— Jennifer Baichwal

November 19, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Thanks to all who came to the Farm Centre for the Social last night, when there were so many other things going on, too. We had a nice group and the event when really well - -the planning on the part of the CA Board all paid off. There were tasty refreshments, a supremely capable bartender in Darcie Lanthier, excellent video compilation and a trivia by Cindy Richards, a clever "good news" skit by Catherine O'Brien and Boyd Allen, one knock-out clever song written by Doug Millington (ably song by Tony Reddin), and concise descriptions of what the Citizens' Alliance is working on in various areas. Irene Novaczek brought beautiful door prizes from the Oceanna Seaplants business. Thanks to the patient partners and offspring of Board members who pitched in with table hauling and dish washing.

And thanks for all the donations. If you wanted to be there or just wanted to donate, you could send an e-transfer at any time to <> or a cheque to our mailbox at the Voluntary Resource Centre, 81 Prince Street, Ch'town, C1A 4R3. (We have a non-profit group bank account at the Credit Union.) With funds raised we hope to keep our memberships at the Farm Centre and VRC, keep the website domain names for the Citizens' Alliance (and the original Stop Plan B archival one), and give something to the Proportional Representation coalition as the next phase regarding referendum moves along.

Today, Sunday, November 19th:

PEI Symphony Orchestra, 2:30PM, Facebook event details

Monday, November 20th,

District 11 second advance poll, 9AM-7PM, Eastlink Centre (Civic Centre).

More details from Elections PEI.

The PEI Legislature sits Tuesday,(2-5PM, 7-9PM), Wednesday (2-5PM), Thursday (2-5PM, 7-9PM) and Friday (10AM-1PM). Lots of comments on the capital budget and legislation.

Justin Trudeau will be given the Synom's Medal and give a lecture this Thursday around noon, but some transparency on how the tickets were distributed would be interesting, as they went super-quick. It is often recorded but not sure if it will be broadcast live on-line.


Congratulations to some outstanding Island community "pillars" who were honoured in a ceremony at Fanningback Friday, with Senate Canada 150 Medals, including environmentalists Fred Cheverie, Rosemary Curley, Sharon Labchuk, and Gary Schneider.


David Suzuki Foundation has a contest going for the winner to go on a ten-day trip to Mexico to butterfly reserves. No purchase necessary! Details:


Jakob von Uexkull is a lecturer founder of the Right Livelihood Awards (also known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize") and World Future Council.

I am convinced that we will be able to overcome the challenges of our time if we address the interlinked crisis with interlinked solutions. The exceptional opportunity which lies in times of crisis is that big changes can be easier than small steps, as only they are seen as adequate and thus able to inspire and mobilize.

There are many historical examples of such changes growing rapidly from small beginnings. We are often told we cannot change our world – or human nature. Yet both are changed all the time. New norms, technologies and lifestyles spread across continents. Public attitudes shift. Culture is not static, but adapts and evolves continually, as does human consciousness.

Across the world we share key values. We want to hand over a healthy planet to our children. We want to be co-creators of our future. We are not powerless victims of unstoppable forces. We can create a different human story of global citizenship, empowering us to deliver sustainable well-being for all without exceeding planetary limits.

We need political frameworks to be changed, as ultimately there is no faster way to make change happen than through binding legislation. With the best laws and right policy incentives we can mobilize human inventiveness and entrepreneurship for human development and a healthy planet. Building public support for coherent policy action – and assisting policy-makers in implementing it – is the indispensable meta-initiative to ensure that our efforts to promote human development, human rights and peace and security are not squandered.

— Jakob von Uexkull

November 18, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This evening is the Plan B anniversary and social, all welcome! 7-10PM, Farm Centre, freewill donations accepted.

Videos, trivia, reminiscences, what the Citizens' Alliance is doing now, and how you can be a part of it, sketch comedy, music. Refreshments and a cash bar. (If there was one thing we learned from the the Plan B protest, it was how to get together and have a good, informal time.) If you wish to bring a snack to share, feel free to do so. We are using the donations at the door and receipts from the bar to fund our operating expenses in the next year or so. Drop in for all or any bit you can.

Here is one of the first independent videos made to get the word about the Plan B opposition. At 7 minutes, it's probably a bit too long to show at the event tonight with so many other videos to share), but it was made in Spring of 2012 and sums up things to that point very well:


Also happening today:

Advance Polls, District 11 (Charlottetown-Parkdale) by-election for MLA, 9AM-7PM,

Eastlink Centre.

And while you are at Eastlink Centre or the area:

Free Tickets for Annual Christmas Concerts, 11AM-noon, Eastlink Centre, for the Friday, December 1st Christmas with John Gracie concert, and Saturday, December 2nd, A Christmas to Remember. The latter features "heart-warming holiday music and Island Christmas stories with popular Islander performers Kendall Docherty, Catherine O’Brien, Caroline Bernard, Marlane O’Brien, Don Fraser, and The Reindeer Express Band." (The concerts are at Trinity United Church). Limit of four tickets, while quantities last, all part of Charlottetown's Wintertide Festival.

Speaking of free tickets going quickly, apparently the Justin Trudeau Symon's Lecture tickets were spoken for in under ten minutes. (The lecture is Thursday, November 23rd). I am not sure if there are plans to livestream the speech.)


It's the last day for:

Wild Bird Seed Sale, 8AM-12noon, from Phillips Feed on Exhibition Drive. Some proceeds go to the Island Nature Trust, and bird food and feeders are all discounted. Someone (Julie-Lynn Zahavich, perhaps) from INT will be at the store to answer questions.

ACT's last two performances of The Shop Around the Corner, details here.

Colonel Gray High School craft fair (10AM-5PM), Spring Park Road, proceeds of door admission and fudge sales and such going to kids' expenses in the music programs, lots of music playing while you shop.

P.E.I. Crafts Council Fair, 10AM-5PM today,

12noon-5PM Sunday, Delta Hotel. Details


Tomorrow, Sunday, November 19th:

PEI Symphony Orchestra, 2:30PM, the big Canada 150 one with choirs and such, and the only one of the season at the Confederation Centre's Homburg Theatre (is that naming contract over yet?? Humbug!) Facebook event details

Thursday, November 23rd:

Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada leader, will be with District 11 candidate Hannah Bell, 7-9PM, bar1911, for a social.


Ronald Wright is a novelist, historian, author of A Scientific Romance and A Short History of Progress. (This essay was written before Brexit.)

Societies behave much like individuals. They resist reform with denial and delusion, often thinking the answer to their problems is more of the same only better. The most widespread delusion of our times is that “progress,” in the sense of technological inventiveness and growth, will save us – when unbridled progress is exactly what has brought us to the fix we’re in now.

History and archaeology show us that societies seldom change their self-destructive ways until circumstances force them to do so. By then it is often too late. Yet there have been times and places where humans managed to think ahead for their long-term good. Several small-scale societies – among them the Tahitians, the Inuit and the hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari – learned to keep their numbers and demands within their ecological means.

A few much larger societies, notably the ancient Egyptians and Peruvians, also learned to respect natural limits, by ceasing to build on farmland. In modern times the European Union, for all its flaws, is probably the boldest effort to learn from past mistakes. It took two World Wars – one should have been enough – but in the end true progress was made by the formation of this unique multinational association of erstwhile foes, which has grown from six countries to nearly thirty. Long may it last.

Our world is overcrowded, inequality is worse than in pre-Revolutionary France, and natural systems are buckling under the weight of our demand. But I have not written off the human ability to change. Giving in to despair is always a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now is our last chance to get the future right.

— Ronald Wright

November 17, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Cindy Richards and I were interviewed about the Plan B highway protest time and the event tomorrow (7PM, Farm Centre), and it was played yesterday morning on Island Morning radio. Here is the audio file:

It is about eight minutes long.


The PEI Legislature sits from 10AM-1PM today. Attend the Gallery or watch at home.

Presumably, after the usual line-up of welcomes and announcements and Question Period, the MLAs will still be commenting on the Speech from the Throne, before other kinds of business can begin.

In my mind, this is one area of democratic renewal that could be addressed. For an assembly that sits as few days as ours, there really is no need for such blowsy, hyper-partisan twaddle somewhat related to announcements in the Speech. The government party MLA goes on in great detail what he or she thinks they know about a subject, and how their party has met the great problems facing them. The Opposition tears strip after strip. There are no time limits, as far as I can tell. It just goes on like a runny nose until one day they just wrap it up and get on to discussing current issues and current legislation.


Some random notes from the Legislature:

Yesterday, Thursday, November 16th, Question Period focused on health care and seniors, specifically those individuals waiting for beds in various forms of care, and the inefficient use of health care dollars when a person is in the wrong kind of facility. Health Minister Robbie Henderson responded with repeating he needed evidence-based science, and time to determine the right plan, the right care, the right place and the right time, sounding very much like the Agriculture Minister listing off on his fingers the program components in that case to reduce fertilizer usage by using the right product in the right amounts at the right time....

These holding ponds filled by non-high capacity wells, but many of them, came up again, with Environment Critic Brad Trivers leading that aspect. Environment Minister Mitchell said the ponds were occasionally topped up from collecting run-off by a well water supply; it appears permitting will be allowed if or until a serious effect is noted (the evidenced-based science is certainly not here on P.E.I. water supply, by the way).

It should be noted that the two women in Spring Valley and others have noticed that these ponds were not occasionally topped off by well-water -- it was constant from several wells, truly equally a high-capacity well. It looks like people had good advice in making sure they did not meet thresholds for wells and therefore public scrutiny. Trivers also asked about lobbyists coaching companies and he Ag minister nearly flipped out and said that no one is coaching farmers (which wasn't Trivers question) and instead talked about the value of the Kensington Watershed Group.

Soon after, in a bit of amazing coordination, the minute the Agriculture Minister stood up after Question Period to announce the Community Food Security and Education program small grant recipients, the government announcement arrived in my mailbox. The Premier's Communication Nexus chugged out the statement and sent it to mailboxes before the Minister slid back into his seat.

Peter Bevan-Baker responded to the announcement saying it is good but so much more is needed. He also praised community volunteers like Pauline Howard of the PEI Food Exchange.

Jordan Brown, new minister of Culture, announced that an announcement about a culture strategy would soon be announced.

The entire Legislature agreed on the recommendation for a new Chief Electoral Officer, Tim Garrity of Cornwall. All wished him well, and Brad Trivers mentioned he hope there would be no "shenanigans" as were reported in the last election.


Then the Opposition afternoon started with Motion No. 5. Assistant Clerk tries to read it. "Calling on Government to approve licenses for existing long term carebeds in private facilities." Around that time, that moment, it appeared that most government members left, with a huge amount of noise out in the Hall (this is another area that could be addressed in democratic reform).

The motion wants beds approved soon, with flexibilty to convert the beds to some other type of care as the needs changed. Minister Hendserson repeated his right time right place right bed phrasing, and proposed some amendments; the hour ran out while he was talking about it.

The evening session was the comment on the Throne Speech, with Richard Brown apparently finishing, then Minister McIsaac (I think, Biggar, Murphy and Mundy).

The Young Voters Facebook live coverage of the "District 11 on Tap" was interesting (more later).


Guy Caron, who ran for the federal NDP leadership, is on the Island this afternoon:

Campaign Reception with Guy Caron and Mike Redmond, 4-5:30PM, next to Timothy's on Great George Street.Facebook event details

Here is a very pretty video about NDP candidate for District 11, Michael Redmond:


My letter about the government's response to the Plebiscite -- Honour the Younger Voter, please:

A chance to make amends on MMP - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Use Mixed Member Proportional for next two provincial elections, then hold referendum to evaluate it

P.E.I. turned some heads for extending the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds in the Plebiscite on Electoral Reform last year. Before the vote, there had been information in the schools, but schedules in high school years are full and not much class time could be given to dissect and really discuss the various options. However, turnout from this group was about the same as other groups, and younger voters strongly chose proportional representation (PR) systems.

My 16-year-old-son and his voting age-siblings voted in the plebiscite last year, a right they dutifully executed. These young voters, just like many Islanders, realized what progress could be made, with P.E.I. leading the way.

The next day I saw their expressions when the premier smothered the whole process by tossing out conditions that should have been made clear before the ballot was approved. I saw their expressions upon seeing video clips of presumably educated Liberal MLAs making speeches full of inaccuracies and fear mongering about PR (see the Legislative Assembly Hansard or Video Archives for November 18, 2016), when discussing the Premier’s duplicitous Motion 80.

Young voters understood that the crowded ballot, the short timeframe, and lukewarm government engagement had an effect on turnout. They also knew that when you sat in small groups with people of any age, from 10 to 100, and answered all their questions on all options, Islanders sat back and realized PR wasn’t to be feared; it was the future of a truly mighty little Island.

For a person who prides himself on the time spent working in post-secondary institutions for the future of our youth, who made promises of government working toward real democratic reform, Premier MacLauchlan is ready to stall progress and youth engagement for a decade. But there still is time.

Mr. Premier: Institute Mixed Member Proportional for the next two general elections, then hold a referendum to evaluate it. Honour the voters, especially those voters who are our Island’s future.

- Chris Ortenburger of Bonshaw is in the Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I, which is a member organization of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation


Carmen Mills is a community organizer, writer, co-facilitator of Young Urban Zen in Vancouver.

And she's fed up with us humans.

I have had it with people shit-talking my species.

Listen up: humans are no more greedy or evil than any other critter. Just like dogs or whales or paramecia or tomato plants, we just want to be happy. We are motivated by whatever will keep us warm, well-fed and laid. Particularly laid, because above all, we want to perpetuate our precious DNA. To this end, like all animals, we will tend to feed and breed until our population reaches carrying capacity. At which point, we execute a dramatic mass die-off, and the cycle begins again.

We’re not more worthy of survival than any other beast, but neither are we execrable slime who “deserve” to be wiped from the planet. In spite of our careless behaviour, we mean well, and even when we act just as crudely as our fellow carbon-based life forms, heaping insults on poor Homo sapiens will not help to address the perilous global situation.

We hairless primates are unique among animals in this: we have the capacity to act for the greater good, even if such actions might be painful or inconvenient. We have somehow managed to develop these huge frontal lobes, and in the face of the next great wave of extinction, we might just be able to use them to override self-destructive animal behaviour. We are starting to reject the ancient biological imperative to care only about our own blood and tribe. That’s a new thing. We are shutting down nuclear plants, feeding hungry strangers and deciding to take a pass on procreation. You won’t see dogs or amoebas doing that.

We are very clever critters. I figure, if we were smart enough to get ourselves into this mess, then we might be smart enough to get us out of it. What are the odds? Who knows? The odds of a fish crawling out of the ocean were pretty slim too. But there is no time to be wasted in working out the numbers – we either do something, or we do nothing. The Doing Something camp is where the most fun people seem to be hanging out. So I say, let’s shake off the ashes of species self-loathing and get our collective ass in gear. It is time to stand by our species.

— Carmen Mills

November 16, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


A chat about Plan B and the Citizens' Alliance, and our social Saturday night, with Cindy Richards and me, CBC Radio Island Morning, not sure if 7:15ish or after 8:10AM, but it's not between 7:30-8AM, as that's when:

District 11 Candidates roundtable, CBC Radio Island Morning, 7:40-8AM. All four candidates will be there.

Reserve tickets for Justin Trudeau's Symon's Lecture go on "sale", 10AM, call or on-line.

The Symon's Lecture is next Thursday, November 23rd, at noon.

The PEI Legislature sits from 2-5PM and 7-9PM. All are welcome in the Gallery of the Coles Building, to watch close-circuit at the J. Angus MacLean Building across the street (corner of Great George and Richmond), or to watch from home on Eastlink or the Legislative Assembly website. Legislature website.


District 11 on Tap, Candidates Forum sponsored by the Young Voters of PEI, 7-9PM, bar1911, free. All candidates have committed to this forum.


The regular work of the provincial Legislature started yesterday with the welcomes, question period, some bills tabled for first reading, announcements from government and response from the opposition parties, and then the responses to the Speech from the Throne. Richard Brown used about an hour yesterday to comment on just about everything (mostly his view of economics) when the clock ran out, and it appeared he was just warming up.

James Aylward, new Leader of Opposition, started out with questions on mental health, followed by his caucus and also Peter Bevan-Baker's questions. The other Opposition members also asked:

Matt MacKay (Kensington-Malpeque) brought up the holding ponds, which Environment Minister Robert Mitchell said all would be registered and permitted (as in the paperwork and in being allowed) in the regulations. All, as in all kinds of wells and all kinds of holding facilities, meaning all kinds of wells could be allowed? Matt pretty much stuck to his questions and didn't pursue that at this time.

Jamie Fox (Borden-Kinkora) (and I think Brad Trivers (Rustico-Emerald) brought up the deplorable shape of some Island roads while all is spent on overblown projects digging into farmland.


Nancy Ellen Abrams is philosopher of science and lawyer specializing in scientific controversies, co-author with Joel R. Primack of The View from the Center of the Universe. She writes the Global Chorus essay for today.

If you’ve ever wondered why humans work pretty well as individuals but humanity seems so reliably dysfunctional, you may not have considered this possibility: that the universe we assume we’re living in is not the one we’re actually in. For centuries people have extrapolated from the way things work in the solar system to how they must work in the universe. But on very large scales, cosmologists have discovered, the rules change. Most of the universe is two mysterious, invisible things: “dark matter” and “dark energy,” which don’t behave like anything we’ve experienced on Earth.

Why does this matter? “The universe” is not just the big stuff – it includes all size scales, including Earth, its oceans, animals, bacteria, atoms and elementary particles. The universe integrates it all, so how the universe operates is relevant to our world. Cosmological concepts may help us re-envision humanly large scale and long-term problems like climate change.

We were taught that Earth is an average planet of an average star in possibly endless space, but Earth is actually an extraordinary planet in a wildly dynamic universe. Our idiosyncratic solar system travels up and down like a carousel horse, orbiting the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The galaxy rotates like a pinwheel inside a vast halo of whizzing dark matter, while all the distant galaxies are being carried away ever faster by dark energy. The “Double Dark” theory offers revolutionary ideas that as metaphors can help us reframe politics, economics and even what is sacred.

Even more marvellously, we now have the first origin story ever told that’s supported by scientific evidence, and it’s equally true for everyone on Earth. Throughout history a shared origin story was what united a culture. If our poets, artists and scholars, as well as scientists, help present this new origin story in ways everyone, including children, can appreciate, we could have not only smarter thinking but a bond that connects humanity worldwide. Our descendants could live comfortably on this jewel of a planet for millions more generations. For more information, see

— Nancy Ellen Abrams

November 15, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Public Meeting on Future of Health Services in Crapaud, 7PM, Crapaud Community Centre. Recent changes in the area's family doctor's practice have concerned residents, and Bevan-Baker wants to hear their concerns. Facebook event details

UPEI Sustainable Development Goals Training, 6-9PM, hosted by International Studies Society, UPEI Student Centre, MacMillan Hall, $20.

"<snip> a UN official and the Executive Director of a UN advocacy group will be coming to UPEI to educate students and community members about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. They'll be talking about their work, and will be helping participants to come up with SDG initiatives that can be implemented in our own community."

Facebook event details



Thursday, November 16th:

Tickets can be reserved for Justin Trudeau's Symon's Medal ceremony and Lecture, starting at 10AM on-line and by telephone.

The Symon's Lecture is next Thursday, November 23rd, at noon.

Tomorrow -- Saturday:,

Thursday, November 16th -- Saturday, November 18th:

Play: The Shop Around the Corner


Thursday, November 16 at 8PM

Friday, November 17 at 8PM

Saturday, November 18 at 2PM and at 8PM.

An ACT production, tickets about $20.

Facebook event details

Thursday, 7PM, bar1911 is also the District 11 on Tap Young Voters forum -- due to time constraints, the only questions from the public will be collected in advance and the most popular will be asked. Here is the event page with the link to the one question you would submit:

and this is important as it may be the only public forum if no others are able to be organized.


Marie Burge's excellent op-ed piece in yesterday's (November 13th, 2017) Guardian:

MARIE BURGE: Will speech include MMP? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Marie Burge

Many P.E.I. residents will be interested in how the continuation of electoral renewal will play out

When Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry reads the speech from the throne to open the third session of the 65th General Assembly of the P.E.I. Legislature this afternoon at 2:00 p.m., Islanders will listen carefully to hear the current government’s plans regarding a number of sensitive economic and social issues.

Many P.E.I. residents will be interested in how the continuation of electoral renewal will play out. Premier MacLauchlan rejected the 2016 plebiscite voters’ choice, Mixed Member Proportional Representation.

However he made it clear that in the next election in 2019, there would be a referendum on electoral systems as part of the regular ballot. In various fora since the 2016 plebiscite, the premier also made it clear that Mixed Member Proportional would be on the upcoming referendum ballot plus one other choice.

It seems that the Legislative Assembly will decide on the second choice on the referendum ballot. As well it is expected that the Legislature will decide on the guidelines and procedures for the referendum.

Many people, including the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation, will be especially attentive to the opening of the Legislature today.

The Cooper Institute, as a member of the Coalition for Proportional Representation, is of course interested in what will be decided as a referendum question. But just as important we are concerned about what form of community engagement will take place in preparation for the referendum.

The Institute has 34 years experience working with a wide range of community-based organizations on many crucial issues. Our original concept of engagement is best described as a community development model, which begins with the assumption that people already have a lot of knowledge.

Our goal is to have people share that knowledge with each other with clarifications only where necessary. How they decide to vote in the referendum is their choice. It should be an enlightened choice. Nobody has the right to set out to impose a choice on citizens.

The people need to decide without undue pressure. The more complicated and/or high-pressured the education process is, the less will voters make a free choice.

Basically though, our biggest concern is not about how ready the community will be to vote and even to adopt Mixed Member Proportional Representation, if that were to be the result of the 2019 referendum. We are more concerned that the political parties will not be ready. The current four political parties have for years been steeped in a winner-loser, adversarial election style. All of the parties need to do some soul-searching and training.

A first question: how ready are the parties to accept that absolute power would never again be their election prize? Secondly: how do you go from a position of outright competition, and sometimes hostility, to one of co-operation across party lines and sharing power?

For many people in P.E.I., it will be a welcome day when the representation in the legislature will reflect the actual vote of citizens. But it is also essential that their MLAs represent the interests, needs, and concerns of the people. We want policies which are designed, based on the will of the people. We want policies made in full view of the people (that’s what transparency means).

We want policies, which go beyond the letter of the law to highlight the spirit of the law. We want MLAs who know how to work together so that policies, which many groups have identified, will serve the best interests of Islanders. Some of the policies now worrying the population are: school closures; elected school boards, mental health services, appropriate and fair immigration; protection of land and water; sustainable rural development; climate change; trade justice; food security; violence against women and children, and Basic Income Guarantee.

- Marie Burge of Cooper Institute Collective, which is an organizational member of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation

Quoting the Throne Speech on Electoral Reform from yesterday:

The government "will table referendum legislation in 2018 to allow for a second, binding vote on democratic reform. This legislation will include “a clear referendum question as well as the rules required for a fair and transparent process,” the speech states."


Robert Bringhurst is a poet, linguist, translator, typographer, and author of many books including The Surface of Meaning: Books and Book Design in Canada

Humans have lived on the Earth for more than 100,000 years. For 99.9 per cent of that time, we as a species did only modest damage to the self-repairing fabric of our planet. We may even have contributed to its beauty nearly as much as we took away. Then we acquired industrial power, with no concomitant increase in wisdom. Then we robbed the bank of fossil fuel and began to burn the house down, dancing to the flames.

Individuals, when they’ve committed atrocious mistakes, often reflect and change their ways. Societies can change their behaviour too, though less deliberately and consciously than persons. Societies are essentially creatures of habit, feeble-minded and short-sighted. They have appetites and customs, assumptions and beliefs, but they don’t see visions or cultivate ideas. Species are more unconscious still. They change through genetic rather than cultural adaptation, turning into different species as they go.

Can we reverse the damage we’ve done to the global envelope? Very unlikely. Maybe the Earth itself can do so, over a space of a few million years. Will we as a species still be here? Hugely improbable. Will we adapt to the changes facing the Earth in the meantime? Might we, in other words, leave evolutionary descendants? Some species probably will; we are unlikely to be among them. Bacteria, archaea and protozoa, which mutate much faster than we can, will have the advantage. From that foundation, new species as complex as whales, herons and elephants may arise. If we are lucky, then, distant cousins of ours may walk, fly and swim here again, in a world that might be as sweet as the one we destroyed.

— Robert Bringhurst

November 14, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Speech from the Throne, 2PM, watch on Eastlink TV or on-line at the Legislative Assembly website here; not 100% sure the Murphy Community Centre will be live-streaming it, but they have the past two years. The Speaker's Reception follows at the Murphy Community Centre; again, not sure if tickets are mandatory as they haven't been recently, either.

Saturday, November 18th:

Plan B 5 Year Reunion, 7-10PM, A social for all who read this newsletter, whether or not they were actually involved in opposing the highway project. Some video and photos, trivia and fun, refreshments and cash bar, looking back -- and really, looking ahead. All welcome to drop in any time; admission by donation, as we are using this as a soft fundraiser for Citizens' Alliance for our modest operating expenses.


When Premier MacLauchlan said he was going to focus on the environment in this session, some of us thought, uh-oh. The focus on education resulted in a swirly-pop number of councils with no hope of a revival of locally elected boards, and a bitter, exhausting fight to save small schools. Focusing on land has resulted in the Municipalities Act, in amalgamation being that mystery novel it shouldn't be (and handing the Tories the wedge issue if they would promising to scrap the Act if forming government after the next election). Focusing on democratic renewal has not lead to timely voting system reform (understatement), nor any serious evaluation of other aspects like the role of standing committees, the hours of the Legislature, etc. So please stay engaged in what happens in the day-to-day debates and we'll try to help people keep informed.


Kay Wall and Mary Cousins clearly speak about the environment as they focus on the protection of water and more:

Looking for help to conserve water in Spring Valley - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, November 13th, 2017

by Kay Wall and Mary Cousins

To Whom it May Concern:

It has come to our attention that Indian River Farms (Mary Jean Irving) is in the process of building four more holding ponds and has already drilled several wells within a four-kilometre radius in the Spring Valley area.

These ponds are used to irrigate potatoes to supply the Cavendish Farms plant in New Annan.

A year ago they built a very large holding pond and dug wells at the intersection of Highway 102 and 104 with no consultation with the residents nearby. The pumps ran continuously all summer - day and night as water was sent to irrigate various fields in the area. This pond borders on the highway, which has several homes nearby and a couple of businesses (greenhouses and concrete plant), which also use water.

Apparently the new ponds are to be larger than the one built in the fall of 2016, and one is close to it on Highway 104.

No one in the community was ever consulted or advised of these wells and ponds, nor was the Malpeque Bay Council of which Spring Valley is a member.

We, the residents, do not want or need more wells and holding ponds in our area. We need to conserve our water for all and for future generations to use.

Many trees have also been removed from this general area of Spring Valley and Indian River.

Studies show that planting more trees and hedges hold the moisture in the ground and help prevent wind erosion. We need to plant our crops in smaller fields - after all this is a small Province, an Island and receives a lot of wind.

We have been advised by a potato farmer that irrigated potatoes do not store well and that there is very little difference in yield between irrigated fields and non-irrigated fields.

Where do we turn for help to conserve our land, our trees and our water when our government won't protect us?

- Kay Wall is president and Mary Cousins is secretary, Spring Valley Women's Institute


Swami Ambikananda Saraswati is the founder of the Traditional Yoga Association and The Mukti Project and wrote the essay for today'sGlobal Chorus anthology.

Whenever I think of our present or future, Thomas Merton’s warning that we “live in a time when the technological ending of the world will be legal,” echoes through my mind. This is our crisis: we have created the means and the institutions to end billions of years of life. We were not here at the beginning of life on this planet, but we threaten to be the cause of its end.

Hope for our future cannot therefore be found in our awesome technology or any of our grand institutions.

Our only hope now lies in the transformation of human consciousness.

This new consciousness refuses the call to be exploiters and competitors. It calls us instead to walk humbly with each other offering sustenance and dignity.

To invite it we must do the work that makes changes in ourselves possible, including standing together peacefully against interests that seek to divide and destroy. In this togetherness we must continually remind each other that we ourselves are the art of life: we are the canvas, the painter and the brush. The future is not independent of us, it is not made by blind forces that we can barely name – it is being created by each of us. If there is to be a painting of the future, it is one we are colouring now. While finding hope in scientists like Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Paul Nurse, who reminds us that all life is more closely related to us than we ever thought, to inspire my own transformation I turn to the very first teaching of Yoga as a practice, which was given in the Katha Upanishad by the God of Death, Yama: The Self is the ultimate reality … Who sees this Self, Sees it resting in the hearts of all.

Swami Ambikananda Saraswati

November 13, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Some events coming up today and this week:


District 11 (Charlottetown-Parkdale) Candidates events:

Bob Doiron (Liberal) -- Campaign Social, 10AM-12noon, at his headquarters at 78 Kensington Road. This is on the east side of the road, across from Spring Lane.

Hannah Bell (Green) -- A Living Room Conversation, 1:30-3:30PM, Y-Loft, 252 Prince Street (up by the corner of Euston, the old YMCA Building).

An informal time with the candidate, questions and concerns, light refreshments.


If anyone knows of any other candidate events, please send them my way.



Women's Network Fundraiser: Celebrate Island Women with Irish Mythen and Side Hustle, 6-9:30PM, The Guild, tickets still available, I think (see link or call the box office).

For more than 30 years, Women’s Network PEI has dedicated itself to improve the status of women in our community. Acting as a forum for the voices of Island women, we provide them with opportunities to realize power, knowledge, abilities, vision and financial security.


Thursday, November 16th:

District 11 on Tap -- Meet the Candidates, 6:30-8:30PM, bar1911 (side-entrance basement of the 1911 Jail pizza place at Longworth Avenue and Mt. Edward Road). Bob Doiron has since announced he is unable to come. from the Facebook event:

Who are these people? Why do they want to be the MLA for District 11? Young Voters of PEI has got you covered. We're hosting an all-candidates forum to help you figure out who you'd like to send to Province House.

Advance Polls are open Saturday the 18th and Monday, November 20th.

Elections PEI information

The Citizens' Alliance, along with some others, is hoping to help organize a forum for the D11 candidates on Friday, November 24th. Still very much in the planning stage.


From a recent Guardian:

LETTER: A PR question for candidates - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

With the renewed discussion on Proportional Representation on P.E.I., I would suggest the first question voters in District 11 ask each candidate is, “What is your personal stand on PR, (and not your party’s stand)?”

That’s what I’ll be asking when they darken my door.

Lloyd Kerry, Charlottetown


The government, in its usual Friday Flurry of announcements, sent out a press release about funding for grandparents that are primarily responsible for taking care of their grandchildren. This assistance is of course very helpful -- good for government for getting it together. The CBC rewrote the government press release a bit and reprinted the quotes for an on-lin article (link below). One quote used in both places (from a grandparents' group facilitator) was about how fast this help has come. That's not quite what others will remember, as some grandparents have been lobbying government and appealing to the Opposition for several years about these situations, as best I can remember. Credit goes to PC Leader James Aylward for his attention to this issue all this time, and I think Darlene Compton (District 4: Belfast-Murray River), too.


Julia Miranda Londoño is General Director of Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia (Colombian National Parks Authority). More information about her, here:

Colombia is a singular region of planet Earth because of the predominance of contrasts. On the one hand, it holds a huge amount of biodiversity and natural resources, but on the other hand, basic needs for thousands of people are still not covered. As a matter of fact, there is poverty, represented as hunger, and lack of education, health and good housing. States are making big efforts to develop their countries and enhance life quality of their citizens, facing at the same time in some cases political and institutional instability, which makes governability of their territories something difficult to achieve.

Nonetheless, in the middle of this critical reality, states, economic sectors, environmental NGOs but mainly, organized local communities, have been working hard in order to accomplish the conservation of ecosystems which provide invaluable environmental services. This job has been serious, consistent and persistent, and it has had as its ultimate goal the effective conservation of protected areas – as well as sustainable production with environmentally friendly technologies – in those areas where water resources, forests and fauna along with traditional knowledge are of main importance. Furthermore, partnerships between the public sector, communities and the private sector have been fundamental in order to attract the attention of all society sectors that value natural richness and that are claiming for more environmental sensitivity, which results in clearer laws and stronger public institutions that could enforce policies and rules.

I believe that this model could work if it is strictly implemented. If the so-wanted economic growth is achieved, mixed with well-being for humans, based on the respect and value of natural resources of countries, and if enough areas of well managed ecosystems are left that could keep providing their goods and services, a better and more balanced planet will be possible. A planet with a real future!

— Julia Miranda Londoño

November 12, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Things shift from Standing Committees and many constituent concerns to actual time preparing for and being in the Legislature this week for Island MLAs and their staff.

Tuesday, November 14th:

Speech from the Throne, 2PM, Coles Building (Legislative Chamber).

Tickets to sit on the floor of the Legislature for the Speech delivered by Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry are handed out to "dignitaries" and family members. The rest of us can watch at home on Eastlink TV or the Legislative Assembly website or I think on a screen in the Murphy Community Centre.

That location has some quirks, as it used to be just the location for the invitation-only Speaker's Tea (as the people in the Legislative Chamber crossed the street and came over for some sort of refreshments of coffee and tea and sandwiches and cookies). But for the past couple of speeches, the doors are open evidently for the Speech and afterward (with no door check for invitations), so all are welcome to drop in for the Speech, the snacks and/or conversation with MLAs and dignitaries. I'll check on if that's the case this year.

Usually, the Legislature gets down to business on Wednesday, at 2PM (forgoing the Tuesday evening session on the 14th).


Here is the recording of the Friday, November 10th CBC Radio Island Morning political panel (about 20 minutes). Besides the District 11 by-election (and How Important It Is For All Parties), there is quite the scene with Paul MacNeill vesuviating about roadblocks in the Three Rivers municipal amalgamation project and Dennis King coolly playing devil's advocate about the whole process.


A petition to consider re: disposable coffee cups (while alternatives like not going to take-out places or bringing a reusable cup have not taken off yet). This petition asks Starbucks to figure out a truly compostable or recyclable take-out cup (as the current paper cups for most hot drinks unfortunately have a polyethylene lining). Petition link:


This is one study but pretty horrible news, and could explain a lot of what we see going on. Note the automatic heading toward dismissive comment from the representative of the pesticide lobby CropLife.

Sask. research shows common crop pesticides cause songbirds to lose weight, sense of direction - CBC News on-line article by The Canadian Press

University of Saskatchewan researcher finds white-crowned sparrows lost natural ability to find north

Published on-line on Friday, November 10th, 2017

Newly published research says two of Canada's most commonly used pesticides cause migrating songbirds to lose weight and their sense of direction. "This is very good evidence that even a little dose — incidental, you might call it — in their feeding could be enough to have serious impacts," said University of Saskatchewan biologist Christy Morrissey, whose paper was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

Morrissey studied the effect of two widely used pesticide types —neonicotinoids and organophosphates. Both are used on more than 100 different crops, including wheat and canola, and are found in dozens of commercial products. The so-called neonics are often applied to seeds before they're planted in the ground. Organophosphates are applied in tiny granules.

Both are known to be lethal to birds in large doses, but Morrissey wanted to study the impact of smaller amounts. She and her colleagues took three groups of white-crowned sparrows, a common migratory songbird found throughout North America, and exposed them to a small dose, a somewhat larger dose, or no dose at all. All doses were kept deliberately small. The low neonic dose was the equivalent of four treated canola seeds per day for three days — about one per cent of the bird's diet.

The results were dramatic. After three days, the low-dose birds lost 17 per cent of their weight. The high-dose birds lost 25 per cent. "That's a lot," said Morrissey. "At that point, those birds were on life support."

The birds exposed to organophosphates kept their weight, but they lost something else — their ability to find north. Both the high-dose and low-dose group lost all orientation and didn't get it back after the tests ended.

The neonics also disoriented the sparrows, but the effect faded when the exposure stopped. A 2016 survey suggested that migratory songbird populations have fallen by 1.5 billion since 1970. Morrissey suggests that pesticides might be one reason why.

"In the real world, any bird that experiences these effects is pretty much a dead bird," she said.

Morrissey points out that pesticides are often applied just as birds are increasing their food intake to get ready to migrate.

Pierre Petelle, head of the agricultural chemical industry association CropLife Canada, said the paper is being considered. "We'll be looking closely at the study, including how realistic the exposure scenarios were, among other elements," he said.

"Like any new study on pesticides, this one will be thoroughly reviewed by both industry and regulators and it will need to be looked at in the context of other extensive studies."

Neonics have already been blamed for steep drops in bee populations. Health Canada is considering a ban on the neonic used in Morrissey's study. The European Union strictly regulates its use.

Morrissey said her study has been made available to Health Canada.

There may be ways to keep the popular pesticide on the market and reduce its environmental impact, she suggested. Instead of being applied universally to seeds, it may be wiser to use neonics only when they're needed. "That's where we have to consider how we're doing agriculture, whether we should be applying very toxic pesticides when they may or may not need to be used."


Joel Makower is chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group, author of Strategies for the Green Economy. He writes about vision in this entry to the anthology Global Chorus.

Hope for the planet is everywhere, in thousands of ideas, projects, campaigns and organizations. There is no shortage of ideas, passion or commitment. There is no shortage of enabling technologies, inspiring examples or solution sets. We know the questions. We have the answers.

What we lack is a vision – a compelling vision of “what happens if we get things right.” It’s funny to think about. We have no shortage of visions of what failure looks like: of environmental destruction and the loss of community and security, of food shortages and “resource wars.” We’ve heard plenty about rising oceans and spreading disease vectors, and the loss of topsoil that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to feed nine billion empty bellies.

But we don’t have a vision of success – a story being told by leaders in business, politics and popular culture about the happy path: the opportunities to harness sustainability to create healthy individuals, communities and economies. To ensure abundant energy, water and food. And the well-being that comes from a world in balance.

What is that compelling story? Who should be telling it? How can it become the irresistible vision of what’s possible?

We need a new story and lots of new storytellers.

— Joel Makower

Vision PEI writes about a lot of things often from this viewpoint, and they can be found mostly on Facebook.

November 11, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' markets are open today in Charlottetown and Summerside, and both places will break before 11AM for a specific recognition of Remembrance Day.


This article was in, the "ten-language news and information platform produced by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation", and though it is from a couple of years ago, it's still a good read:

Why small farms are key to feeding the world - post by Anand Chandrasekhar

Published from October 2014

Between 1990 and 2009 the number of small farms in Switzerland halved and the average farm size doubled. With family farming chosen as the theme for this year's World Food Day, leading activist Vandana Shiva is calling for more support to small farmers.

Shiva is an “earth democracy” activist and founder of the India-based NGO Navdanya, which works to protect biodiversity, defend farmers' rights and promote organic farming. According to Shiva, Switzerland’s attempts at food self-sufficiency could show an alternative way for farming. Swiss farms are getting fewer and larger. How can Switzerland become more self-reliant and still retain the family-farm model that is an important part of the cultural identity of the country?

Vandana Shiva: The reasons farms are becoming fewer and larger is a highly twisted economy that punishes small farmers and rewards industrial agriculture. One reward is the $400 billion in global subsidies for large-scale farms. The other reward is that every step of law-making, such as regulations concerning standardisation of food, retail chains, and intellectual property laws, puts a huge burden on small farmers.

For 10,000 years small farmers have done the job. Why only in this century has small farming become unviable? It is because the trade-driven, corporate-driven economic model for agriculture has been designed for large-scale farming. It has been designed to wipe out small farms. Around 70% of the food eaten globally today is produced by small farms. Small farms produce more and yet there is mythology that large scale farming is the answer to hunger

We need to revisit the subsidy question that destroys the planet and other peoples’ food economies. The moment policy internalises small farming, small farmers are going to flourish. Developed countries like Switzerland provide subsidies in the form of direct payments to farmers that are linked to activities like protecting the environment and maintaining the landscape. What is your opinion on this?

V.S.: I differentiate between subsidies and support. A nation should support the maintenance of its waterways, watersheds, soil, biodiversity and communities. Small countries in Europe like Switzerland and Norway have taken this path. If Switzerland supports its mountain farmers it is causing zero damage to dairy farmers in India. The subsidies that cause damage are the ones that are linked to agribusiness and exports because that is where dumping starts to happen.

So I would say that ecological payments to farmers are necessary because agriculture is not just the production of commodities for global markets. It is also about taking care of the land, biodiversity, soil and water. A good farmer who is ecological and organic is doing the work of a physician giving you healthcare, which then reduces national expenditure on diseases.

So, I would completely separate subsidies to agribusiness for grabbing markets from support to small farmers to maintain a society, its ecosystems and culture. However, I am glad about this discussion over reduction of subsidies, as it can then link to issues like transition to ecological agriculture, localised food systems and that issues like increasing self-reliance and food sovereignty are coming into the picture. In Switzerland, the Swiss Farmers Association has submitted an initiative that will be put to vote by Swiss citizens calling for more self-sufficiency in food production. Do you think this is realistic or idealistic for a rich but small country?

V.S.: I think if there is one country that could show another way for farming it is Switzerland. Even though Syngenta has its headquarters in Switzerland, it was the Swiss people who had the first national referendum to keep genetically modified organisms (GMOs) out. This shows that corporate power cannot take over citizen’s power in Switzerland because of the referendum system. Corporations can lobby the government to change a law but how do they get to every citizen in every canton?

Switzerland unlike the American Midwest is a mountainous area. Therefore industrial agriculture just doesn’t work there. Thus the advantages of a decentralised democracy and a mountain ecosystem makes it possible for Switzerland to even conceive such an initiative for more self-sufficiency. Mountain ecosystems and communities should be the basis for food reliance in healthy economies.

I would be very happy to (see) this initiative grow and wish all strength to the Swiss people and Swiss farmers. Indian agriculture is often viewed as inefficient and backward. What can the world learn from Indian small farmers?

V.S.: India is after all supporting 1.2 billion people. We recently prepared a report called “Health per acre”. What we did was first measure the biological productivity of small, diverse farms and we converted this into nutrition per acre. A small, biodiverse Indian farm is so productive that if scaled up to all the available agricultural land in the country, we could feed twice the Indian population. Small, biodiverse farms also provide a higher net income.

The world should start seeing that these giant monoculture farms are producing commodities that are not feeding people but are transformed into biofuel and animal feed. More land for this would aggravate hunger and not reduce it. Whatever does go to human food is nutritionally empty or toxic.

Brazil has followed this path of large scale commercial production, whether it is soyabean or sugarcane, by basically destroying its campacinos [small farmers]. That is why you have the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) who are now occupying these large farms in Brazil.

The one thing no government can touch is the sanctity of the small farm and the dignity that goes with it.



Barb Stegemann is founder of Halifax-based The 7 Virtues Beauty Inc., author of The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen and more about the company can be found here: and on Facebook: This essay is the November 11th Global Chorus anthology entry.

In 2006, my best friend, Trevor Greene, was wounded while serving as a captain of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. While taking part in a village shura (peaceful meeting) on water and healthcare distribution, he was struck in the head by a 16-year old boy. He had a long recovery, and while I was visiting him in the hospital, Trevor inspired me to write and self-publish The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, a motivational book for women that I had long dreamed of writing. I promised Trevor that I would carry on his mission: I would find a way to support Afghanistan.

When I read an article about a man named Abdullah Arsala, the owner of Gulestan Essential Oils distillery in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, it made me realize that perfume could be the way. Arsala was trying to stop local farmers from growing opium poppies, and was instead encouraging them to produce orange blossom and rose – which are perfect for fragrances. So after some investigation, I was able to get in contact with Abdullah Arsala and promptly purchased $2,000 worth of orange blossom oil on my credit card. To date, I have invested $120,000 in Afghanistan by purchasing essential oils through the company I have founded, The 7 Virtues Beauty Inc. Our slogan is “Make Perfume, Not War.” Make anything instead of war.

We source essential oils for our fragrances from our supplier, who provides seasonal employment for his tribe and community. Every time we purchase legal essential oils from Afghanistan, we are doing our part to provide alternatives to the illegal poppy crop (which also causes instability in our own communities). We have grown, and through the matchmaking of our partners we found our supplier in Haiti, who needs buyers for his products in order to rebuild his community. The Vetiver oil of Haiti is considered the best in the world!

I am not a brave soldier, nor am I a world leader, but I set out to empower women to harness the huge buying power they possess to address issues of war and poverty. Our goal is to encourage other businesses to do trade with business people in Afghanistan, Haiti, the Middle East and other nations experiencing strife, as a part of the solution to building peace.

— Barb Stegemann

November 10, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Next Saturday, November 18th, is the:

Plan B Five year Reunion, 7-10PM, Farm Centre. Despite the limited-sounding event title, this evening is for everyone! -- people who were there, people who weren't there, and people who pretty much care about the island. A welcoming gathering and a fund night; and please consider bringing some money. Donations at the door and some Plan B Trivia are easy but not so trivial fundraising for the Citizens' Alliance small "operating" expenses, which include our annual memberships at the Voluntary Resource Centre and the Farm Centre where we can hold meetings and host events (and support those two places), our website and related computer expenses that help get the CA News out there, etc.

There will be humour, reminiscences, snacks, updates on what really great stuff IS going on since Plan B, some videos, a cash bar, and a lot of hugs and laughs.



We are not doing a very good job taking care of our elders. This heartbreaking letter from Rebecca Rioux was in the Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 Guardian:

REBECCA RIOUX: Caring for aging Islanders in silence - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Rebecca Rioux

Shame on government for not taking a leadership role in this growing crisis

When I heard in the media that 72 people are sitting in hospital waiting for a bed in a long-term care facility, my predicament suddenly made sense.

My dad is 88 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in August 2016. I did what I think any child would do, I moved my dad into my home with me. I renovated my home to include an in-law suit in the hopes of maintaining some semblance of independence for him.

He lost his driver’s license in November of the same year so I hired caregivers to take him to and fro. I realized that I can no longer care for my father. He sleeps less than four hours a night, he no longer can cook a hot meal and he struggles significantly with his memory.

When I asked for him to be placed on a waiting list for a provincial bed I was told he doesn’t meet the criteria. He can shower, shave and tend to himself so that means I have no supports from Home Care. He does not wander from my property so that means I have no supports from Home Care. There is no “home” care available for my dad, no free respite available for me.

I’m grateful for my job that pays me a decent salary and the understanding of my employer for the days I’ve missed during this transition. I pay out of pocket for caregivers through the week and care for my dad myself on the weekends. He has one day at Brecken House (P.E.I. Home) but again that alleviates a day that I’d pay for care but provides no respite for me.

I am beyond angry at previous and current provincial governments. We have known since 1964 that an enormous amount of people will require care. While immigration is on the rise, those numbers do little when beds are not available.

Our brick and mortar facilities are woefully inadequate for the numbers of seniors currently waiting and with even greater numbers still to come. I have asked again for supports from the province as my health has suffered greatly caring for my father.

I have lost considerable weight, I sleep less than five hours a night and the stress of this responsibility I feel daily in physical manifestations. Still there is no support for me or my father by the province.

My anger only grows as I’m saving the province money but am getting nothing in return. I am one of a large number of people who are caring for an aging parent in silence. We may have or may not have (in my case), extended family and friends who can help.

If you are concerned about an aging parent, heed my words – do not take them in. Your parent(s), like my dad, have paid taxes for years. Successive governments have poorly managed our province's finances and I am frankly tired of picking up their slack. Until the full scope of this issue is brought to light publicly, the government will not address it. As I enter my second year caring for my dad I know that it really comes down to me, him and whomever I can afford. I know that soon one or both of us will end up in hospital.

I know I will have asked for help again and again knowing 72 people are ahead of him. Shame on the government for shirking its responsibility. Shame on the government for not taking a leadership role on this growing crisis. Shame on the government for turning it’s back on Island seniors. Shame.

- Rebecca Rioux is a resident of Hunter River


Colin Beavan is a speaker, consultant, activist, human, author/star of the book and film No Impact Man, director of the No Impact Project, and wrote the essay used in the Nobember 10th Global Chorus essay.

The Buddha always refused to speak about unanswerable questions like whether there is life after death. He said trying to answer such questions is like a man who has been shot with a poison arrow who, instead of removing the arrow, insists on finding out who shot the arrow, who made it and how long it is. The most profound question in life, the Buddha believed, is not What happens when I die? but, just in this moment, How shall I live? What is my function?

Asking if there is hope for humanity is a little like asking one of Buddha’s unanswerable questions. If you are walking down the sidewalk and a car runs over a child, what do you do? Do you stop and ask, is there hope for this child? The question itself distracts you from doing what is important. You must run and help the child.

Now, at this moment in history, our world is like the child. You must help it! Me too. We all must. Don’t get distracted!

This sounds like a terrible responsibility but it is actually a wonderful opportunity. The world has so many problems that it needs all our special skills and talents. It needs scientists and economists and singers and musicians and children and Christians and Hindus and people of every type. What makes this such a wonderful moment is that, with so much trouble, each of us can make a difference.

So don’t waste time asking if there is hope for this world. Rather, what can you do right now – as the amazingly special and uniquely talented person you are – to pull out the poison arrow, to save the child on the sidewalk, to help this suffering world? The question is not whether the world has hope. The question is, how do I give this world hope? Or more simply, how can I help?

— Colin Beavan

November 9, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Last night the room at Murphy Centre was pretty crowded for the Proportional Representation panel called "Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward." I had the privilege of being a table recorder, which meant I got to talk with and listen to a tableful of people and try to capture and later snappily present their ideas on a particular aspect of moving PR along in the next months. Great planning by the PR Steering Committee and moderator Jane Ledwell for the smoothness of the evening.

Before we got to work we heard some excellent presentations. Panelist Taya Nabuurs shared her experiences as a political science student, an Elections PEI information officer, a "Daughter of the Vote" with 307 other women across Canada at the House of Commons earlier this year (and making a speech about electoral reform to the same Prime Minister who reneged on his promise to move forward about this). And she is a thoughtful, articulate young person (one of several who really should make us all hopeful for the future).

Leonard Russell was involved in the 2005 plebiscite and recalled some interesting details of that time, and why voters would vote the way they do. About their government, he said that people want good experience and fairness, kind of like what parents what for their children. He also said we have to fight the inertia of government, which of course takes energy. He was more inclined to the idea that most people continue to vote the way their parents did, but several people in the crowd pointed out to each other that there are a lot of new Islanders, and even those who can count the generations back six or seven times, who don't hold to that anymore.

Ian Petrie, whose voice is ever a clear, strong, thoughtful radio voice, identified the points we haven't really wanted to think about too much, why didn't 60-plus percent of Island voters vote in the plebiscite, and how will PR-committed individuals be able to address and deal with that.

Tables worked on individual elements of keeping things going for the next two years as we weather the MacLauchlan government's creeping towards its plans on a referendum.

People of all ages and backgrounds came to this event, including many who weren't at every public forum, but voted and turned up at the Rally last November and witnessed the dismissal of the voter; the message is that it's time and we are more than ready to have a proportional system.

Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward event, November 8th, photo by Sidney MacEwen and used without his permission but with a huge thank-you.


Marilyn Waring is the author of Counting for Nothing/If Women Counted and a professor of public policy at AUT University (Auckland, New Zealand). This Global Chorus essay is very timely.

The future requires more than hope.

It requires commitment and resilient defiance in the face of all the patriarchy wishes to hurl at us and destroy for personal wealth and political, religious and military gain.

They want us immobilized with fear and they want us to give up.

So the first act of creative feminist politics is to refuse to comply with their agenda, to defy their corrupt and destructive ideologies and to act to change our world with ideas and creative alternative practices that have at their heart the dignity of all peoples, and the care, nurturing and return to health of our beautiful ecosystem.

— Marilyn Waring

November 8, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

News yesterday that the Prime Minister is giving the Symon's Lecture (and receiving the Symon's Lecture) on Confederation, on:

Thursday, November 23rd (daytime).

Symon's Lecture, Tickets are free but have to be reserved, starting next Thursday, November 16th. From the Confed Centre website: More details.



Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM, at the J. Angus MacLean Building. This meeting will NOT be broadcast on-line, but you can attend in person or wait for the audio recording or written transcript. PC MLA (Rustico-Emerald) Brad Trivers should be taking a permanent seat on this committee.


Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward, 7PM, Murphy Centre. It's been one year and we are close. Come out and hear three informed panelists and join in the discussion.


Brenda Oslawsky, who has worked so enduringly on explaining and promoting proportional representation over the past few years, wrote this piece in this week's paper:

BRENDA OSLAWSKY: PR would help engage Islanders - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Brenda Oslawsky

Published on Monday, November 6th, 2017

Coalition governments bring greater transparency, stability, oversight and due diligence

We are approaching the one year anniversary of the proportional representation (PR) win in the provincial plebiscite (Nov. 7, 2016) and now might be a good time to consider how things would have been different under Mixed Member Proportional (MMP).

MMP would have ensured that the seat allocation for each party would have better reflected the popular vote. The Liberals with 41 per cent of the vote would have received 11 seats, while the PCs with 37 per cent of the popular vote would have received 10 seats. Both the NDP and the Greens would have received three seats each as they both received around 11 per cent of votes.

The Liberal party would have had to form a coalition with one of the other parties to pass legislation. While they likely would have joined with the Greens or the NDP to get the required 14 votes, they could have also joined with the PCs to form a 21 seat ‘super majority,’ leaving the NDPs and Greens to form a six seat opposition, healthier than many in recent years.

Alternatively, if the Liberals were unable to come to an agreement or were unwilling to cooperate with one of the other parties, the three opposition parties could have joined forces to govern. Just such a thing happened in New Zealand in recent weeks. The National Party was unable to find common ground with other parties to gain enough support, so the second place Labour party joined with New Zealand First and the Greens to govern.

How would coalition or consensus-style governance have differed from what we have now? All-party committees would draft not just reports but also the legislation presented in the legislature.

Currently, without having to get support from any other party to pass legislation, reports from committees merely inform, or not, a select few individuals who draft legislation in the premier’s office. Imagine how this systemic change would have affected the whole process around the English school board consultations.

Coalition partners could insist on due diligence in public tenders, access to public information and/or sign off from all coalition members on major public spending, as conditions of their support. The important thing is that no party governs un-chaperoned.

Having to form coalitions with other parties prevent extremist parties from running government on their own. While the second place Republican Party assumed total control in the U.S, in Denmark the third-place centre-right party is heading a coalition government as other parties would not support a government led by either the first-place, centre-left party or the second place anti-immigrant party.

In Sweden, the two large centre-left and centre-right parties formed a ‘super majority’ as there was resistance to forming a coalition with the far right party.

And these coalitions last, as both Sweden and the Netherlands have elections less often than we do in Canada.

While some might worry about an explosion of parties under PR, we know those fears are unfounded. In 2015, Canada (with a population of 36 million) elected MPs from five parties while Germany (with a population of 82 million), which uses MMP, elected candidates from 7 parties.

It has been almost two and a half years since the premier, in his first throne speech, promised to engage Islanders in decisions, increase openness and transparency and to hold government accountable. Now it is time to think about how a proportional system would help a government achieve those ideals while ensuring that every vote counts and decisions lie with a ‘true’ majority of the voters.

- Brenda Oslawsky is a member of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation, representing Fair Vote P.E.I., the local chapter of national organization, Fair Vote Canada, where she also sits on the executive.


The Honourable David Anderson, PC, OC, has had done a lot in his 80 years, but stands as the longest serving Canadian Minister of Environment (1999–2004) under Jean Chretian. He writes the essay used for today's Global Chorus anthology (so it is a few years old).

Here is a really good Wikipedia article about him:

Research in recent years has provided marginal improvement in our knowledge of climate change, but no change to the policy imperative. The need to move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions remains as the overarching challenge for humankind.

It is discouraging that in the 21 years since the 1992 Rio Conference, no successful international framework has been established to guide the globe to a more sustainable future. It is equally discouraging that so few serious national efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions have been undertaken.

Is there hope for humankind? Perhaps, but the experience of the 21 years since Rio have shaken previous optimism in this regard.

The annual gatherings of the international community to discuss climate change since Rio, the Conferences of the Parties, is unhappy proof of this. The record is dismal. Nations seem incapable of putting short-term national considerations aside and determining a collective approach to a collective problem.

The hope for humankind may paradoxically lie in the increasing number and severity of the problems that climate change is generating. As past experience makes clear, a threat in the future may be discounted as hypothetical, but turning a blind eye is more difficult when that threat materializes as a challenge to be confronted, perhaps as an extreme weather event, or, in Northwestern North America, as a weather-induced kill of tens of thousands of square kilometres of pine forests.

Optimism for the future of humanity may be justified. But for that optimism to be rooted in realism, Nature must set the stage. That, unfortunately, is taking time. And time is not on our side.

--David Anderson

November 7, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Lecture: "The Secret Bird Islands of Atlantic Canada", Nature PEI meeting with biologist David Cairns, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Historic Carriage House. All welcome.


Tomorrow, Journalist Ian Petrie joins student leader Taya Nabuurs and Leonard Russell in a panel discussion on going forward one year after the P.E.I. plebiscite on electoral reform (you may remember, the one where the majority of Islanders who voted, voted for proportional representation. Which the Premier and every Liberal MLA voted against).

Wednesday, November 8th:

Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward, 7-9PM, Murphy Community Centre, all welcome.

Facebook event details


Congratulations to Leah Jane Hayward for being acclaimed president of the P.E.I. NDP!

CBC on-line article and coverage today on radio.


from yesterday's Letter to the Editor section:

LETTER: ‘Honour the vote’ still resonates - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, November 6th, 2017

A year ago a significant number of Islanders told Premier MacLauchlan and his Liberal government that we want to change how we vote. That we no longer want a First Past the Post system that does not reflect the voice of an equally significant number of Islanders; that a Proportional Representation system would.

Certainly PR will benefit smaller Island political parties like the one I represent. But it will also allow for more women, ethnic minorities, people with physical and other challenges, people in lower income brackets, even more rural based Islanders, to be elected which with having more political parties running candidates would do. This gives voice to segments of our population who believe we are not given that opportunity of influencing public policy. Fewer lawyers as it were!

As for PR allowing a more equitable distribution of elected Legislative representatives from political parties it will do so for the “main line “parties too. Others have already pointed out that had we had P.R. in place for the 2015 election the P.C.s [37.4 per cent of the vote] would have elected 10 MLAs while the Liberals (40.8 per cent) would have had 11. This would have better reflected what Islanders who voted really wanted in our Legislature.

The plebiscite results a year ago sent out a clear message: Islanders want a better and diversified democratic system in our legislature.

Honour the vote, Mr. Premier.

Edith Perry,

NDP P.E.I. representative


Julia Butterfly Hill is an artist, activist, and author. From 1997-1999 she lived in a redwood tree to prevent it from being logged (a decent decision by the logging company, a little different from the treatment people who tried that received during the Plan B highway protest), and the tree and area was protected. She co-founded the Circle of Life Foundation and her website it here.

A great Global Chorus piece she contributed.

Everywhere we look today, our world and our planet are in deep and profound crisis. Our human family, with such wealth of opportunity and resources, seems determined to make the worst possible choices for our collective well-being. Even the most “conscious” among us are making choices every day that cause harm to the planet and all its beings and life support systems.

When I look at the problems we face, I recognize that every single issue is merely a symptom. ALL issues are symptoms of the Disease of Disconnect. When we are disconnected from our intricate interdependency with the Earth, we make choices that destroy it without realizing how we destroy ourselves and future generations in the process. When we are disconnected from people and animals, we make choices that cause harm and suffering without even realizing it or thinking about it.

I was born a highly sensitive person. I feel pain and suffering of others, of everything, on a very, very deep level. To be “awake” in the world today is to be open to pain and grief. To see what is possible for our species – without adding one more piece of technology – just with what we already have available to us, and the reality of the gap between what is possible and how we behave, breaks my heart, overwhelms me and makes me process a lot of grief and then rage.

I tell people all the time, “I am probably the world’s biggest cynic. I just don’t happen to let that stop me.” The reality is that INACTION is as much a part of shaping and co-creating our world as the actions of others! We don’t have a crystal ball to tell us if we have what it takes to turn our Titanic away from the iceberg. And although much of what I see in the world today makes me feel like most of us are running around rearranging the deck chairs and arguing about the best spot for the view, what I do know is that the only thing I can control in this wild uncertainty of life is how I choose to show up for it. So, I do my best to not let my cynicism stop me from showing up each day with a heart committed to learning, growing, caring and serving with all that I can.

“Hope” and “hopelessness” or “cynicism” are each made up. We make them up. They are not true or fact. They are thoughts and feelings and we are 100 per cent responsible for them. No matter if you are someone who has hope or does not have hope, what I know makes a difference right here, right now is how boldly, courageously and fiercely we are committed to bringing the consciousness of love to our own choices and to the world around us. If we somehow make it around the iceberg, it will be because enough people answered the call to put love into action. If we do not make it around the iceberg, at least our lives would have been used to bring more

loving awareness into the world. And for me that is something worth living for.

— Julia Butterfly Hill

November 6, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

A few events going on this week:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7th:

NaturePEI monthly meeting and lecture: "The Secret Bird Islands of Atlantic Canada", with biologist David Cairns, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Historic Carriage House. All welcome.

Wednesday, November 8th:

Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM, J. Angus MacLean Building, corner of Great George and Richmond.

Note that this meeting, since it is in the J. Angus MacLean building and not the legislative chamber, will NOT be live-streamed on the Legislative Assembly's website The meeting is open to the public and will be recorded on audio and put on the Assembly's website, and the Hansard transcript will follow.


Two stories (one link and one in the text) about the food we eat:

The great nutrient collapse - Politico online article by Helena Botlemiller Evich

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention. Published on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 Our food, and the food everything eats, is less nutritious, and this could lead to major food issues

The article is here.


Another thoughtful column by Ian Petrie, printed in Island Farmer, a publication.

Fall plowing and hard choices - Island Farmer article by Ian Petrie

Published on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2017

There are few issues that divide Monday morning quarterbacks like me, and farmers who have to live and work in the real world, than fall plowing. I’ve compared fall plowing to drunk driving, not in the legal sense, but something we should just stop doing. My education continues.

It started last spring. Charlie Murphy from China Point is a farmer I’ve always respected. I first met him thirty years ago buying weaners in the spring to raise for pork in the fall. He has very strong opinions which he doesn’t mind sharing. Charlie drove up my lane in April and said he had something to show me. He farms land around my home in Belfast.

We drove to a field that had been partially plowed last fall, but about a third of it was still green and growing. Charlie said he’d have little choice but to spray the herbicide Round-up to kill the plant growth in order to prepare the field for planting in May. Charlie said he doesn’t like to use Round-up because it deadens the soil for a while, but had no choice. I’ve heard similar stories from many other farmers. If land isn’t plowed in the fall, they say, then farmers have little choice but to use a herbicide if there’s to be any chance of a proper seedbed the following spring.

Time is the enemy here. For one, how much additional field work can farmers realistically do in the Spring if the plowing has been delayed, and even more importantly how long will it take for heavy amounts of sod and other organic matter to break down. Late June and July is not the time to be planting. Time works against farmers in another way.

The consequences of fall plowing aren’t apparent as the moldboard carves through the soil in October. In fact the land may never look better, full of fresh organic matter, earthworms and seagulls everywhere on healthy soils. It’s later in February if there’s no snow cover that frozen bare soil gets blown around for miles. It’s in a wet April when rushing spring melt and rainwater move soil from fields into ditches and waterways. When it’s too late to do anything about it.

I thought we were on to some solutions a few years ago when a group of researchers worked with Souris area farmers, and the local watershed group, to study something constructive. What if farmers delayed plowing until the spring, not just to prevent soil erosion, but provide nutrients, especially nitrates, for the next year’s crop.

Researchers already knew from work done by Agriculture Canada that nitrates from legume crops plowed down in the fall leach out into groundwater and local waterways, adding to the already serious nitrate load. Could the prospect of free fertilizer give farmers enough reason to delay plowing? Unfortunately what was supposed to be a two year project ended after a year (Harper cuts) so the evidence was never established. Dalhousie University soil scientist David Burton did tell me there was some follow-up recently which does offer new information. If farmers at least put off fall plowing for six weeks or so, then there will be less nitrate leaching.

“With fall plowing in September or October”, Burton says, “there’s still lots of heat in the ground to allow the microbes to release the ammonia that will be transformed into nitrates and increasing the rate of nitrate loss. If we delay that fall plowing until November when the soils cooled down the microbes aren’t as active we’re not going to get nearly as much nitrate formation and therefore much reduced rate of nitrate loss.”

It still feels like small steps and not enough. I’d like to see an end to fall plowing, but I’ve talked with too many farmers, including a large organic producer, who want to do the right thing but say the risk of falling too far behind the following spring is just too great. I’d also like world peace, and for Canada to not have to waste so much time and energy catering to a self-centred moron in the White House. I’m not going to get my way with these things either.


Zack Metcalfe is an author and journalist (Alternatives Journal, among others). He wrote the essay used on the November 6th Global Chorus. He is based in Halifax but gets to the Island, often, and works with the Sierra Club on blue whale projects. He also sends out articles on the environment on his Twitter.

I have to believe we will succeed in saving ourselves. As a young man in a struggling world, I have everything to lose by succumbing to apathy or despair. I have yet to find my place in life, to fall in love, to become a father or to change my own corner of the world for the better. As my grandfather likes to say: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”

I believe the solutions to our problems are subtle. It isn’t necessarily about driving electric cars and shutting down coal plants. These are only signs of the cure, not the cure itself.

First, we need to put a greater emphasis on scientific literacy in the public. People need a healthy understanding of how the world works, through science. This makes them resistant to the pseudo-science, anti-science, junk science (take your pick) that plagues the world today, making people question whether or not climate change even exists! When we see through the clouds of nonsense to the real, frightening and approaching truth, it will be a resounding call to arms.

Second, we need to expand our borders of empathy, not only to one another but to the natural world and the animals we share it with. We need to acknowledge their right to land, their right to water, their right to exist and their right to prosper.

With these broad changes in place, we will stop robbing the oceans of fish faster than they can repopulate. We will fall short of deforestation, for fear of ruining the land for ourselves and our animal cousins. Profit margins from multinationals will mean nothing when compared to the free services offered by the natural world, and to the affection we rightfully have for it. There are a thousand solutions to every problem you could pose, environmental and social. We need the knowledge to see those solutions, make sound decisions on a global scale and have a moral compass to guide our steps.

Can we do it? Yes. Do I have hope?

I have no other choice.

— Zack Metcalfe

November 5, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

This afternoon, some lovely music:

"The Very Best of the ASM" concert, (Atlantic String Machine, a five piece string ensemble), 2:30PM, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Charlottetown. Ticketed. Facebook event details.

Also coming up:

Wednesday, November 9th:

Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward, 7PM, Murphy Community Centre,

Let's take a quick look back and then move forward on this!

Facebook event details


Saturday, November 18th:

Stop Plan B 5 Year Reunion, 7PM, Farm Centre, all welcome! a big social to reminisce and to see what *good* things islanders and others who fought the Plan B highway have been up to.



OPINION: Bad forestry practices compound climate challenge - The Chronicle Herald Guest Opinion by Jamie Simpson

Published on Friday, November 3rd, 2017

John McPhee’s Oct. 28 article, “Climate change may endanger spruce, fir,” is an important story to tell. Yes, many of our trees will die as the climate changes because these trees are adapted to a more northern climate. But McPhee’s article is half of the story. Part II is the unfortunate reality that these vulnerable trees are unnaturally abundant in our forests because of our forestry (mis)management.

In a process sometimes called “borealization,” we have transformed much of our forestland into something more closely resembling the northern boreal forest. It’s not that balsam fir and white spruce wouldn’t naturally occur in the Maritimes. It’s just that these species would be much less common on our landscape in the absence of clearcutting and past land-clearing for agriculture.

The reason behind this changed forest is that forests are adapted to different types of disturbances. The boreal forest thrives under high-disturbance conditions such as frequent fires and large-scale wind and insect damage, occurring over a period of decades. Our Acadian Forest (found in the Maritimes and parts of Maine and northern New England), on the other hand, thrives under smaller-scale forest disturbances that kill only a few trees at a time. Large natural disturbances occur in the Acadian Forest, of course, but only very rarely, at time intervals measured in centuries.

Do I hear an “aha!”? Our legacy of past land-clearing for agriculture and our current use of widespread clearcutting has created conditions very favourable to boreal forest tree species, and indeed boreal forest species have flourished at the expense of our warmer-climate adapted trees. We have put our forests in an extremely vulnerable position. Even without climate change, we’ve created forests that are susceptible to greater damage from disease, insect outbreaks and windstorms. Add climate change and we may well witness a “perfect storm” of stresses on large areas of our forest.

This is nothing new. Forest scientists have known about the “borealization” of our forests for decades. Forest scientists have also been predicting the negative impacts of climate change on our forest for at least a decade or two. What is disturbing is that our government consistently ignores these serious threats to our forests and continues to support forestry practices that exacerbate the problem.

How might we manage our forests if the future (and our children) mattered?

We’d encourage forest harvesting and silviculture practices that favour trees that are at the northern end of their range (rather than encouraging those at the southern end of their range, as we are doing now). This means less clearcutting and more partial cutting methods. It means adopting thinning practices that favour our southern species and forests with a diversity of tree ages growing together. This is not an impossible thing to accomplish. I’ve seen it done by progressive foresters on numerous woodlots in the span of a couple of decades.

I’ve had some success within 15 years on my own woodlot: a diversity of ages replaces the single-aged forest and the abundance of balsam fir and white spruce declines while pines, maples and other more southerly species increase. It’s not difficult; it just requires some forward thinking.

There’s never a “one solution fits all” in forestry, but our government appears oblivious to the need to change at all. Our politicians and senior Department of Natural Resources staff seem determined to forge blindly ahead with the clearcutting status quo. Hopefully, we get some bright lights on the proverbial steering wheel before they drive the truck over the cliff.

Jamie Simpson is a forester, woodlot owner and lawyer, and is the author of Restoring the Acadian Forest: A guide for woodland owners in Eastern Canada, Second Edition, published by Nimbus.


Ricardo Rozzi and Francisca Massardo write today's Global Chorus essay.

At the southern end of the Americas, a group of artists, philosophers, scientists, members of the Yahgan indigenous community, teachers, students, naval officers and government authorities created the Omora Ethnobotanical Park, and developed a methodological approach – Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP) – to integrate ecological sciences and ethics.

One of FEP’s applications is “Ecotourism with a Hand-Lens,” which has invited researchers, decision-makers and the general public to appreciate the aesthetic, economic, ecological and ethical values of the Miniature Forests of Cape Horn, a metaphoric expression to highlight the biodiversity hotspot of lichens, mosses and other bryophytes found in southwestern South America.

For global society, “Ecotourism with a HandLens” not only amplifies the view of mosses and other small organisms, but it also offers a lens that broadens our mental, perceptual and affective images about Nature and our relationships with Nature. Science teaches us that mosses, humans and all living beings share the common vital pulse of cellular respiration, growth and reproduction. If the southern “biocultural ethical hand-lens” could help global society to listen to the breathing of the mosses, to the calls of the birds, to the waves of the oceans, and to the many human languages that perceive the mosses, the birds, the oceans and other beings understood and respected as co-inhabitants – as sisters and brothers, rather than as mere natural resources; if global society could recover the capacity to listen to the multiple human and non-human voices of the community of co-inhabitants with whom we share our daily lives, at local or distant habitats, then hope would be present with us in a global chorus. Individual self-absorption will be understood as an idiocy that needs to be corrected.

A biocultural ethic will promote an integral life and a harmonic co-inhabitation that requires listening, respecting and understanding the beauty, the truth and the value of each of the human and the other-than-human voices of the life chorus.

-- Ricardo Rozzi, PhD, philosopher, ecologist, professor, director of the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program in the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity at University of Magallanes (Chile) and University of North Texas

— Francisca Massardo, PhD, plant physiologist, conservation biologist, professor, director of the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity at University of Magallanes, director of Omora Ethnobotanical Park (Chile)

November 4, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

Farmers' Markets are open from 9AM to 2PM in Charlottetown and 9AM-1PM in Summerside.

Phillips Ag Service Bird Seed Sale, next two weeks, store open from 8AM-noon, Exhibition Drive.

"Come support the Island Nature Trust by purchasing Bird Food & Bird Feeders. All feed, feeders and accessories are on sale! Staff from the Island Nature Trust will be on hand Saturday, Nov. 4th & Saturday, Nov. 18th to answer any questions."

I think Julie Lynn Zahavich will be there today and here is a link to her and her artwork, by the way (click the "work" link above the picture).

Voluntary Resource Fundraising Breakfast and Volunteer Recognition, 8:30-10:30AM, Farm Centre. Probably some room for walk-ins! $30, with tax receipt sent to you.

New Democratic Party of PEI Annual General Meeting, 10:30AM-6PM, 10AM registration, Rodd Charlottetown, Kent Street.

District 11 Green Party volunteer training session and canvassing, 1-4PM, Meeting at Bar1911 (side entrance to the 1911 Jail pizza restaurant), working with Hannah Bell, Green Party Candidate.


Salute! A benefit for the PEI Military Family Resource Centre, 7:30PM-9:30PM, Florence Simmons Performance Hall, Weymouth Street, Charlottetown. Ticketed.

Facebook event details


Despite calling them "Vison" PEI (and not "Vision"), the paper printed this op-ed piece by Dale Small and John E. Clow that clearly spells out what many of us feel and haven't articulated. Note I formatted the "givens" and the "questions" to make it easier to read.

VISON P.E.I.: A potato image problem - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dale Small and John E. Clow

Published on Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Feel-good commercials are merely a feeble attempt to avoid responsibility and concrete actions.

Let’s start with some givens.

1. Generally, the P.E.I. potato industry has a bad reputation with Islanders.

2. The majority of farmers on P.E.I. are fine, upstanding citizens of our province. They are our families, friends, neighbors; salt of the earth people. They have made significant improvements to their farming practices.

3. A small number of potato farmers are not responsible citizens. They demonstrate disrespect for the land, the environment, the law and fellow Islanders. If the P.E.I. Potato Board has an image problem, it is due to the minority who tarnish the rest.

Potato Board and the provincial government recently announced commercials aimed at improving their image with the public. There is something inherently wrong-headed with this initiative. Until the industry and government can acknowledge the past and ongoing damage to P.E.I. and demonstrate a sincere intent to clean up their act, feel-good commercials are merely a feeble attempt to avoid responsibility and concrete actions.

It appears that this government’s approach to bad practices and behaviours is centered on communication, consultation and co-operation; gentle pressure on the wrongdoers. All fine words, but meaningless without a transparent strategy and objectives shared with Islanders.

Also, meaningless if dialogue supersedes prosecution of serious violations. There must be consequences commensurate with the impacts of environmental destruction. Although not a perfect analogy, it is akin to pleading with habitual drunk drivers to behave themselves.

We would respectfully propose that the Potato Board consider the following questions:

*Are you willing to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of watershed destruction over the past 60 years on P.E.I. was caused by industrial potato farming practices?

*Are you willing to sincerely collaborate with citizen interest groups, government and others to help draft and enact common sense laws and regulations (rigorously enforced) to ensure, once and for all, that fish kills, red dust storms, drifting clouds of chemicals and siltation of watersheds become no more than a bad memory?

*We ask you to please consider the impact a PR campaign based on affirmative answers to the above would have on your image. We know it’s a hard ask, but take a clear, objective look at yourselves.

*Do you really believe that feel good commercials will be effective in burnishing your reputation? Do you want this image problem to continue for the next 60 years? Do you want Islanders to be faced with a binary choice: a potato industry or a healthy environment?

*Or do you want to be a willing, valued and respected part of both? Can you collectively convince the Irvings to join in your effort?

Who knows you might even be appreciated for your candor and forward thinking.

- Dale Small and John E. Clow are members of Vision P.E.I. The authors have decades of experience exploring P.E.I. watersheds.


Sally Armstrong is a journalist and human rights activist, and wrote the essay for the November 4th Global Chorus. This was written a few years ago, but very timely.

The Earth is shifting. Women’s issues are in a hot light that is illuminating changes to the economy, conflict, culture and religion. The evidence is all over the place – from zones of conflict to the United Nations, from banking institutions to political offices and even the water cooler.

The news is this: women are the way forward. From Kabul and Cairo to Cape Town and New York, women are issuing a clarion call for change. And this time the power brokers are listening. Economist Jeffrey Sachs, of Millennium Development Goals fame, claims the status of women is directly related to the economy: where one is flourishing, so is the other; where one’s in the ditch, so is the other.

The coming changes are based on the notion that financially, the world can no longer afford to keep half of its population oppressed.

Supporters are jumping onto this bandwagon like born-again believers in the power of women.

The thugs in the lives of these women who got away with denying the girls an education, refusing to let the women go to work; the rapists and warlords who saw them as pawns or worse, something to barter, are on notice now. The last frontier for women is having control over their own bodies. They’re are on the doorstep of change, a change that will alter the world’s economies, health status and level of conflict. The state of the world’s women will never be the same.

— Sally Armstrong

November 3, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The slate of candidates from the major political parties on P.E.I. has been set, with the announcement of Mike Redmond, leader of provincial NDP, has been nominated as the candidate in District 11.

The byelection day is Monday, November 27th, with Advance Polling on Saturday, November 18th, Monday, November 20, and Friday, November 24th. With Remembrance Day next Saturday and a holiday for many Monday, November 13th, it's a very compressed time for candidates and supporters going door-to-door.

More about District 11 voter registration.

Here is a screenshot of a map of the District 11 current boundaries, from the Elections PEI website:

District 11, with Polling Stations No.1-No.11 labeled. Hope this gives you an idea of where it is in the current electoral boundaries. The unmarked burgundy line is the confederation trail.


And on some other land, from the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and the Environment yesterday:

P.E.I. land holding agreements being abused by corporation, committee hears - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Officials with Cavendish Farms, the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute and Vanco Farms to appear before committee to answer to land holding concerns

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - P.E.I.’s land ownership limits are being abused by large, richly funded, outside corporations and organizations thanks to loopholes in the Island’s lands protection laws.

This was the assertion put forward Thursday by representatives of the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) in P.E.I. to the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment. Doug Campbell and Reg Phelan say a few big corporations are buying up large amounts of P.E.I. farmland, despite the fact P.E.I. has caps on the amount of land any one individual or company can own. “Many other Islanders share our alarm about land transferals,” said Campbell, district director of the NFU in P.E.I. “What is upsetting for us, and for many other aware community groups, is the lack of transparency about how ownership and control of farmland can take place under the radar.”

Campbell and Phelan named three entities in particular they allege are using loopholes to own or control more land than is permitted under P.E.I.’s land ownership laws – Irving-owned Cavendish Farms, the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute (GEBIS) and Vanco Farms. As a result of their concerns, officials from these three entities are being called to testify before the standing committee about their land holdings in P.E.I.

Phelan says people living in the rural areas of P.E.I. can plainly see that although farms are being purchased under the names of other individuals or corporations, signage on buildings and equipment clearly show the Vanco logo. In eastern P.E.I., more and more farmland is being purchased by individuals who are affiliated with GEBIS while Cavendish Farms has long been purchasing land in P.E.I. under affiliated corporate identities, Campbell and Phelan said.

This phenomenon has caused farmland to become unaffordable for Islanders looking to add to their acreage or get into the industry due to the high amounts these deep-pocketed entities are paying for Island land. “It’s making it very difficult for young farmers to be able to continue farming or for others to be able to do it because they just can’t compete with that type of price and that type of situation, and that’s why we’re so concerned about it,” Phelan said.

Last week, the minister responsible for land and municipalities, Robert Mitchell, appeared before the same standing committee and was questioned on the similar land ownership concerns, including about the fact some of this farmland is being purchased and taken out of production. He said government is aware of the concerns and is monitoring the situation, but assured the committee the province’s Lands Protection Act is being followed.

But while the letter of law may be being followed, the spirit of the law is not, Campbell said. “Accountants and lawyers are a big part of what the problem is here,” he said. "There are certain accountants and certain lawyers that are willing to work the law to the limit.”

They urged the province to close loopholes in the legislation and to give the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission a stronger mandate to investigate the source of investor capital of prospective off-Island land purchasers.

Campbell further challenged two cabinet ministers who sit on the committee, Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald and Rural and Regional Development Minister Pat Murphy, to better inform themselves about the Lands Protection Act to ensure they understand the nuances land purchase applications when they come to cabinet for approval.

“IRAC is telling us they can make the recommendation to cabinet, but it’s up to cabinet to decide whether or not to go forward. That’s where we’re saying cabinet needs to understand what the act is, what is means by spirit and intent,” Campbell said.

“You can’t pass it off on IRAC.”


Douglas Campbell , from the NFU, wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian last week, so in his own words:

OPINION: Foreign investors gobbling farmland - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Douglas Campbell

P.E.I. now victim of well-known global land grab without much apparent government concern

Published on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is alarmed by the rate at which P.E.I. farmland is being transferred to large corporate interests. Islanders, especially those in rural communities, know that all around them, land is being transferred generally in non-transparent transactions.

What is involved are frequent and widespread under-the-radar transfers of large quantities of land to interlocked corporations and to foreign investors. Without much apparent concern on the part of government, P.E.I. is now a victim of the well-known global land grab.

The P.E.I. Lands Protection Act is the envy of many people in other jurisdictions. However, the NFU has known since the early 1980s that limits on acreage ownership must be closely monitored to avoid exploitation of loopholes in the Act. However from the very beginning the NFU has made a distinction between the letter of the law and its spirit and intent.

Premier Angus MacLean, the politician credited with proposing the Lands Protection Act, was clear that the protection of the land is more than legal ownership. It was understood with the passing of the Act that land protection would require watching over who control land and how they do that. It would also require governments to be serious about restricting foreign ownership.

It is the responsibility of successive governments to oversee the actual legal transferral of ownership of land. Just as important, it is essential that each government monitors the way in which corporate entities take control of land even without formal ownership. The intent and spirit of the Lands Protection Act would protect Islanders from corporate entities consolidating power by exercising control over vast amounts of land.

The spirit of the Act is violated when, for example, in the industrial model of production, an industrial corporation can take control of farmland by controlling the production decisions, the access to inputs, and by keeping the farmers indebted to the corporation.

Currently, the Minister of Communities, Lands, and Environment is responsible for the administration of the Lands Protection Act. An arms-length body, the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC), has the role of making recommendations to the Minister who must bring them to Cabinet for approval or rejection.

Unfortunately, these approvals or rejections are based only on the judgment of adherence to the letter of the law. It is estimated that the Cabinet has approved over 85 per cent of the requests for land transfer. The NFU challenges the Minister and IRAC to formulate their recommendations based also on the purpose, spirit and intent of the Lands Protection Act.

At best, IRAC’s recommendations and Cabinet’s approvals are piecemeal ways of acre-by-acre land transfers which accumulate over time into massive shifts in land ownership and control. At worst, the current administration of the Lands Protection Act seems to ignore the nature of land grabbing tactics.

Investors, local and international, with big money, seeing low return on their investment in the financial sector, are turning to securing their future wealth by investing in land, which they presume will increase in value. It is obvious to many people that an individual investor can and does form multiple corporations and thus own or control thousands of acres of land. It seems that there is little transparency.

Governments have the capacity to trace the money, to uncover the source of the investments, and to publicize these. Islanders have the right to know.

The NFU fears for the protection of land in P.E.I. because it is the corporate and investor sectors which seem to have the ear and the heart of government.

The NFU is not necessarily alleging that any of the widespread transfers of land are contravening the legal requirements, though some stretch the law to its limits. We are saying, however, that governments are abandoning the purpose, spirit and intent of the Lands Protection Act.

That is a serious indictment for any government and reveals a lack of understanding of the will of ordinary Islanders.

- Douglas Campbell is a dairy farmer in Southwest Lot 16, and District Director of the National Farmers Union.


Gregor Barnum (1952–2012) was the first Director of Corporate Consciousness at Seventh Generation Inc. and wrote this piece for the Global Chorus anthology before he died. Here is a touching eulogy from his friend Jeffrey Hollender.

Who would we (humanity) be if contradiction was seen as art and the beauty of our ontological quest? There is beauty in so many differing cognitions, feelings, actions. Of course, if Love is Love, wherever would Love not be?

— Gregor Barnum

November 2, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News

The Progressive Conservatives officially nominated the only candidate in their nomination race in District 11 (Charlottetown-Parkdale), Melissa Hilton. She is a Charlottetown city councilor who actually doesn't reside in the District, but the voters who live in the District can decide if that matters or not. It's good when candidates are open about that with the voters.

Hilton's photo she posted on Facebook, reprinted on the PC Party's Facebook page:

PC Candidate for District 11, Melissa Hilton, with the PEI PC Caucus, on stage in Charlottetown, Wednesday, November 1st, 2017.

Signs for her candidacy were put up very early yesterday, and many were up all day, well before the nominating meeting and apparently contradicting Elections PEI rules about the person having had to be the officially designated candidate. (Hilton poohpoohed this, and the PCParty lawyer Murray Murphy parried with Graphic publisher Paul MacNeill for most of the day on the issue on Twitter.)

Hilton joins Hannah Bell of the Green Party and Bob Doiron of the Liberals. The NDP is set to name a candidate later this week. The byelection is set for Monday, November 27th.


The byelection could take some of the spotlight away from examining and re-energizing the plebicite on electoral reform, but actually, they highlight each other.

Next week, a panel on Proportional Representation will be held:

Wednesday, November 8th:

Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward, 7-9PM, Murphy's Community Centre.

One year after PEI voted for Proportional Representation - and one year after the government cast doubt on the plebiscite's validity - please join us for a panel discussion to discuss the way forward for Proportional Representation on PEI.

Featuring a panel discussion moderated by Jane Ledwell and with panel guests Ian Petrie, Taya Nabuurs and Leonard Russell.

This event is being hosted by the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation, which has been at work over the past year to ensure that the democratically expressed desire of Islanders for a fair, proportional voting system is not ignored. Come hear updates and plans for the near future, and how you can help! Facebook event details


And Marie Burge will be on CBC Radio Island Morning after 8:10AM this morning to talk about the plebicite.



Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, 10AM, Coles Building.

"The committee will receive a briefing from Dave Pizio, Chairperson of the Community Improvement Committee (Greenmount-Montrose Community), on the Municipal Government Act and rural communities.

Other presenters to be confirmed. NOTE: Meeting is starting at 10:00AM, one hour later than originally scheduled."

Watch live here.


from The West Prince Graphic, published on Wednesday, October 25th, 2017:

Where’s the benefit for a rural resident? - The Eastern Graphic Letter to the Editor

Once again in your Second Opinion on Amalgamation Waters, you have it all wrong.

First and foremost IRAC has the power to stop unwanted development in unincorporated communities. This new act that you blindly seem to support does nothing to empower a community. It creates more taxation, another layer of governance putting the power in the hands of a council that makes the decisions for the people of the community. The council members sit for a four-year term and are not accountable to the community. There should be a mechanism to remove them. Just look at what happened in Toronto. A drug taking mayor could not be replaced. There is something wrong with giving an elected body power with no controls.

It is the council that votes and decides, not the people of the community. Right now under this system decisions are made democratically by the locals residing in the area. We have seen the corruption of letting government make all the decisions in this province. It is time Islanders stood up and said enough is enough. This bill you support has not one single benefit for a rural resident. It strips us of the rights we have, increases our tax burden and hands over all our powers to a council. This is not democracy it is dictatorship.

I challenge you to tell me five positive points this bill has for the average rural Islander.

To develop rural areas of the Island we need to nurture, encourage, support and assist people with ideas. Not hamper them with another lay of petty governance.

I look forward to seeing your five positive points.

Paul Smitz, Brookvale


James D’Silva is yoga instructor, DVD fitness instructor, website here, and writes today's Global Chorus essay.

On my Yoga journey I have found myself constantly drawn to the teachings of compassion, charity and service to others, embodied in Mahatma Gandhi – my greatest hero.

Time after time I look to Bapuji, who inspired people to non-violent resistance. This slight man was above all a humanitarian who understood that with freedom comes responsibility – something we seem to have forgotten today.

In our search for individual identity we find ourselves choosing uncompromising acquisition, equating wealth with happiness.

The time has now come to ask ourselves whether this is the right choice. In the very first teaching on Yoga it is said,

There are two paths….

One leads outward and the other inward.

You can walk the way outward that leads to pleasure

Or the way inward that leads to grace …

Both of these paths lie before each person eternally.

It is the way of things.

— Katha Upanishad

Responsible change begins with each of us. Every individual needs to find time for introspection before we can make choices that will change us and everything around us. Unless we are ready to look to ourselves for change, we cannot expect change in others. Spending time in meditation, developing an asana practice and being of service allows us to see the universe as a whole and to develop our significant part in it. These practices do not take a lot of time out of our daily lives – and they bring only joy.

It is time to make change happen – change that like Gandhiji’s will echo through humanity and time. Like him we have to start living the change. Each of us, in our own small way, walking our own path, will make the difference.

May yours be an inspirational journey. May you find the joy of meditation – the world is yours to change.


— James D’Silva

November 1, 2017

Chris Ortenburger's CA News


Progressive Conservative District 11 Nomination Meeting, 7PM, Murchison Centre, 17 St. Pius x Ave. Right now Melissa Hilton, city councilor, is the only registered candidate.


"Do You Think You've Found an Artifact or Fossil?", artifact identification event with the paleontologist John Calder and others, 7-8:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street.

"Ever wanted to talk to a paleontologist or archaeologist about an object you've found on PEI? Well it's your lucky day! Paleontologist Dr. John Calder and archaeologists Dr. Helen Kristmanson, Erin Mundy and Dr. David Keenlyside will be at Beaconsfield Historic House on November 1st to identify any artifacts or fossils you may have found!"

Facebook event details

More science!

Visiting hands on science exhibit (150 Power of Ideas), 6-8PM, UPEI gymnasium. Public welcome.

CBC story


Coming up, Saturday, November 4th:

Voluntary Resource Centre Breakfast, 8:30-10:30AM

from a supporter (edited): "If you haven't done so already, please buy a ticket for the annual fundraiser breakfast for the Voluntary Resource Council. (The VRC is ) a great community resource which provides many of our groups with meeting space and other services. Menu designed by chef Emily Wells and local food used where possible.

Tickets are $30.00 each and charitable receipts will be issued for $15.00, and for all donations of $10.00 or more. For tickets, contact Sylvie Arsenault at (902) 368-7337 or"

Facebook event notice

Salute! A performance to honour military families, 7:30-9:30PM, Florence Simmonds Performance Hall, Holland College campus. Tickets available, proceeds going towards the PEI Military Family Resource Centre. Catherine O'Brien has organized this, and will be one of the performers.

CBC story

Facebook event details


Teresa Wright, Guardian political reporter, shared this link a few weeks ago.

Would the people who profess to care about Newfoundland and Labrador please stand up? - The Telegram article by James McLeod

by James McLeod

Published on Friday, September 29th, 2017

Here’s a grim thought to consider for a moment: we are currently living through something like a total moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Newfoundland and Labrador political class, and there’s no sign it will get better any time soon.

By and large, the current crop of politicians aren’t respected or trusted. Premier Dwight Ball is the second-most unpopular premier in the country, and voters here don’t like the leaders of the opposition parties any better.

If it feels like things are getting worse, like the political pool is only becoming more and more toxic, you’re not alone thinking that.

Here’s the thing, though: every single week, as political reporter for The Telegram, I speak to smart, qualified, politically minded, passionately patriotic Newfoundlanders and Labradorians involved in business, government, labour, volunteerism and advocacy.

These people all share two qualities.

First, each one would be a serious, credible candidate if they ever ran for office, and, once elected, they’d immediately become one of the most erudite, interesting politicians in the House of Assembly.

The second quality they share is that each and every one of them would rather swim in the harbour than run for political office.

I’ve had dozens of conversations with these sorts of people, especially recently, as the leadership of the PC party and NDP are in flux, and lots of people expect the Liberal party might be looking for a new leader in the next little while.

Everyone hopes somebody dynamic and exciting steps up, and frankly, Ches Crosbie and Gerry Rogers don’t fit the bill.

What’s preventing somebody good, somebody exciting, somebody new and impressive from getting into politics?

The basic argument goes like this: the electorate is too fickle and too stupid to understand the difficult decisions that need to be made to change course for Newfoundland and Labrador, and if any politician showed the moral courage to really tell it like it is, they’d be ripped to shreds by craven political opponents and then chased out of office.

There are other reasons to stay on the sidelines, too: the demands of an unsympathetic press corps, and the inability to get things done because you have to overcome so many entrenched interests in the public-sector unions, the business community, rural communities and so on.

Oh, and then there’s the frustration of political parties, which are microcosms of all of the problems above, with the added concern that you have to maintain party unity or else you’ll be booted out of office.

Basically, politics is hard.

But if good people don’t get involved, those craven politicians who pander and lie are the only ones who are left. If people decide the political pool is too toxic, they cede that territory to toxic politicians who can thrive there, and, in turn, those people only make it worse. It becomes a feedback loop of cynicism and disengagement, and good people watch from afar, shake their heads and say, “Ain’t it awful.”

To all of those people who claim they care deeply about Newfoundland and Labrador, and want to see a brighter future in the province, I say: put up, or shut up. If you care more about your own paycheque, your own reputation, your own comfortable lifestyle, that’s fine, but at least be honest about it.

So, if you’ve made it this far, I’ve got a couple questions for you, dear reader: do you think you’re smarter, more qualified, with more of a conscience than at least half the MHAs in the House of Assembly? If so, are you going to run for office in 2019?

If you’re not going to run, why not? If people like you don’t run, how do you expect anything to ever get any better?

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?


Angela Sun is a documentary filmmaker, television journalist, sportscaster, member of the Ocean Defender Advisory Board. Her recent documentary work on the dismal mess of plastics in the Pacific Ocean, can be read about here: Plastic Paradise movie website

She writes the essay used for the November 1st Global Chorus anthology.

I am not a scientist or writer, nor am I anything special. I am just a sum of my experiences and I have been very lucky to be able to have had some extraordinary ones. One of the biggest life lessons I have learned was in creating my documentary Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s been an eight-year journey now to tell, through the lens of an independent voice, the tale of plastic pollution in our oceans and how it has and will continue to affect our lives. I tend to get asked why I keep continuing on this journey through all the hardships and strife of pre/post production, to maxing out credit cards/ financial worries, to sleepless nights organizing outreach and screenings and responding to emails, etc. I’ve seen many of my friends and colleagues and even interviewees in the film get married and start families while this project has been all-encompassing of my personal life, at times leaving me feeling utterly alone and lost.

But my overall hope comes from those special moments during post-screening panel discussions, Q&As and conferences where kids ask questions and demand answers in such an inquisitive and curious way, and with such an innocent twinkle in their eyes, that they give me great encouragement for a brighter future. Because it is our duty to protect that future of theirs. I have encountered so many passionate, excited, invigorated audiences who have restored my faith in humanity because they demand transparency and change. Ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things coming together for a common shared purpose to discuss, learn, innovate and implement ideas and solutions.

It will take legislation in a global context, producer responsibility (companies that create plastics), nurturing the scientific community toward ecofriendly innovations, and consumer responsibility for us to progress. On the smallest scale, could you imagine if each one of us refused disposable plastics and reused and consumed less?

It would be glorious.

— Angela Sun

Her film opens the door, and the more recent, and devastating, non-narrated documentary Albatross, by Chris Jordan (which I got to see at the Pugwash conference), really gets the point across. My hope we can screen both films in the coming year.